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“To follow, without halt, one aim: There is the secret of success.” ~ Anna Pavlova

The Inner Teacher

By Tiana Harilela-Vicente

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A few years ago I had a terrible scooter accident in India. It left me with many injuries, some of which I still have today. I was in Mysore at the time, and deeply focused on my asana practice. The accident was a real turning point for me in my own yoga practices and also in my inner being.

I was suddenly faced with the reality that I just could not move my body. Everything stopped for me and it required a deep belief in my spirit to keep me going mentally and physically. I was unable to fly home due to complications and was stuck in India for over a month to recover.

There was however, something pulling me to surrender, so I did. I surrendered to the fact that just walking was painful, sitting was painful, I could barely eat (my face had a hematoma on the right side of my face). Somehow I kept practicing. I started to cultivate a sitting practice – my pranayama practice became more solid from this and was my saving grace. Eventually I got back on my mat in Mysore. I remember my first downward dog and I remember the pain. I remember how one Surya Namaskara (sun salutation) was enough to wipe me out. I remember that just “that” was my practice one day. The most powerful moment came for me was when one day I just accepted that this was just the way things were supposed to be.

I kept going, modifying in the shala in the presence of Sharath. I remember us working together to try to see how I could get back on the mat. It was at this time where I found my inner teacher. The experience showed me the subtleties of the practice in a new found way- in way I had never experienced. It wasn’t will power or determination that pushed me through- it was more a deep acceptance.

Through my pranayama, meditation and the minimal amount of asana practice I was practicing, I found my inner teacher. The only person that could get me through everything I was feeling and experiencing was “me”. It made me look closely at the external situations in life and also drew me inwards more. There was a very clear instruction that came from deep within me to keep the mind in a one pointed state.

As an asana teacher, I found myself soften and work more closely with alignment. I became fascinated by the postures that I was unable to achieve from these injuries and learnt ways to re- work my body. I had to start from the beginning all over again- I was a beginner for the second time. Now, when I teach, there is a more compassion, which has allowed for more space within the traditional practices to work with students and myself in an intelligent way. It became important to me to break everything down. Not just in asana, but also in the way I looked at things, the way I breathed and what I ate. The food that I was putting into my system played a huge role in my healing.

In September my husband and I are teaching a retreat called Yoga & Cooking for Life. While the asana side is focused on a Mysore style practice – we will show students the beauty of this practice without limitations. We use the practice of Ashtanga as a guide to open and come into balance with the body. The teaching allows room for those of us with limitations, showing that anyone can practice.But we will also look at the elements of alignment, something often missed, as well as techniques to make for lighter movement on the mat.

We have always believed that having a balanced diet, rich in organic and fresh ingredients plays a vital role in all of these practices and my husband Shivam will demonstrate how to cook for health, fun and for the palette. We will also look carefully at foods that help us keep our system stay healthy and vibrant, and how to maintain weight and diet. Having grown up with a macrobiotic background, Shivam has found a wonderful way to make food be healthy but also to be truly simple and delicious. His focus has always been on simplicity.

Food is often ignored especially when we are so focused on the outer elements. We aim to show that it really is important to eat welland how a small shift in some old ways of thinking will bring light to your practice and your overall health. We are excited to share what we have learnt over the years with our students, old and new.

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