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Acceptance and Authenticity: Yoga Is For Everybody

Acceptance & Authenticity: Yoga Is For Everybody

As yoga students, our introduction to this beautiful practice almost always starts on the mat.

But why do we go to that first class?

To try it out? To accompany a friend? To understand what the fuss is all about? To become more flexible? To reshape our body? To find some kind of peace and quiet?

There are so many different reasons.

I went to my very first yoga class in 2005, as I was working in a very stressful environment and wanted some me time on a weekly basis.

I was not convinced, but was encouraged to keep looking by my best friend, who had been going to classes for several years and was raving about it. And so, it took me over a year to find the type of yoga I’ve now been practising for over a decade.

As I was entering what I thought would be my last class, I met Terry, my very first Yoga Teacher, the one who would change my relationship to yoga, the one who helped me understand that yoga is for everybody, therefore for me.

Why did I think this would be my last class?

Because I had tried for 11 months various yoga styles with various teachers.

I was not flexible, I didn’t have the right body shape, I was leaving the yoga class with that feeling that I didn’t belong and during those 11 months, my stress level didn’t diminish.

On top of dealing with my hectic work and heavy workload, I now had to deal with the aftermath of yoga.

Why did I keep going?

Because I was craving that lightness, peacefulness that my friend was telling me about, and I’m not one to give up easily. However after a while, I had just come to the conclusion that yoga was not for me!

In Terry’s class, I found out that I was right where I was supposed to be.

That I was welcome to come as I am. That there is no expectation and no competition in yoga (I remind this to my students in every single class to this day!). That we all have different bodies and therefore can’t all do the same things (here come options and variations!). And that I, Aurelie, was ok. I didn’t need to try and change anything. I was just as good as I was.

At the end of the class, I was in tears. This was the most amazing practice I had experienced so far, the one that allowed me to feel good in my body and with my emotions.

I was the same, but I was different.

Something had shifted in my perception.

I left the room feeling good about myself.

Terry gave me that through his way of teaching and his compassionate approach.

I went back, and after gaining confidence, slowly started practising at home in the morning. It was a great way to enter the day and not only did I feel different, more at ease, relaxed, but my colleagues were noticing the changes too, especially on the days when I skipped the practice.

Several years later, I took my first teacher training and I have been teaching yoga ever since.

The students who come to my classes have different abilities or chronic illnesses. Most of them when they first came to me told me, ‘I’d like to try yoga, but I can’t touch my feet.’ And my answer is always the same, ‘Some days, neither can I, and that’s ok, it’s not what yoga is about!’ After that, they usually sign up. And come back for more.

Before teaching, I silently say this little prayer to myself:
‘Beloved Masters and Teachers, send me your love and guidance; allow me to deliver the best possible class to my students today, to let go of my ego and have no expectations. Allow me to help them see that they are perfect just as they are. Om Shanti, Om Peace.’

Jun 5, 2023

Jessica Gray

Aurelie Anjali Gauthier (she/her) is a Registered Integral Yoga Teacher and Trainer E-RYT 500, Mental Health Aware Yoga graduate, Reiki Master Practitioner and Gong Practitioner.

She works primarily with people with disabilities and chronic illnesses and her main goal is to ensure her classes are inclusive and empowering.

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