Yogi As HealerOct 18, 2021
I think we can all agree a good yoga teacher will see the assists your body needs, a great yoga teacher will see the assists your energy needs. Walking out of a yoga class feeling totally and completely seen is high up on our list of top 10 best ‘warm and fuzzy’ feelings. Sometimes it’s hard to put your finger on exactly what’s given you that feeling, but often it’s thanks to the intuition and energy literacy of the teacher. Being able to feel someone’s energy, or ‘vibe’, is something we can all learn to do. Most of us have that ability with those closest to us, sensing small changes in communication or posturing and knowing exactly what is going on. So how can we channel and hone this ability for yoga? Read my interview with Kirileigh Lynch (@_sacredandprofane_) to get some insights!
Please tell us about yourself
I’m a yoga teacher, an energy worker, a traveler and a punk. In my 20’s I worked at Triple J, partied with rockstars and had a lot of fun, but there was this gaping hole inside me that the sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll just didn’t fill. When I found yoga I fell madly in love with the philosophy and embarked on a spiritual journey, while still being mostly normal, at least for a few years. Then shit got really weird - I moved to Berlin and discovered Ayahausca and other plant medicines, and really started exploring altered states of consciousness and my inner universe. Through this exploration I came to discover that I’m a channel and that I can plug into different vibrational frequencies and receive downloads and guidance. As you can imagine it took me a while to come to terms with that! I did three years of intense study on how to understand and control my gift and I now give energy readings as my calling and blessing in this lifetime. I’m so humbled to be able to help people gain clarity about their lives and to hold space for them as they heal.
I am also a glitter nomad and love travelling!
In group practice (yoga classes) everyone has their own energy field going on and there is a lot of emotional processing and ‘stuff’ flying around. As an ‘energy sensitive’ person how do you hold space for that when you are teaching?
This is such a great question and something that took me so long to realise and to understand. The energy of a group of people doing yoga is powerful, beautiful and special, and learning how to protect and channel it has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. As an energy sensitive person, it’s something I’ve really had to learn how to successfully navigate, and my, didn’t it take me a while.
One of the most important steps on this journey was learning to tap in and tap out at the beginning and end of class. Before I started doing this I’d get mixed up in everyone’s energy and end up super high, immediately after class. I would be energised and up, and within and hour I would crash and need to go to bed. Creating a small ritual of rubbing essential oil on my hands and then around my aura and acknowledging at the beginning of class that I was stepping into people’s energy, and at the end of class that I was stepping out of their energy, stopped this high and low rollercoaster and allowed me to be more stable and present.
Another big lesson was learning to read the energy of the room and learn to channel my class based on what I was receiving. It started slowly but by listening to my intuition and prioritising it over my class plan, I learned to teach directly to the students in front of me. It got to the point where I couldn’t even come up with a class theme until I’d walked into the room to start class and where at the end of every class at least one student would ask me If I’d been reading their minds. It’s now the only way I teach.
How do you feel about the role of assists and adjustments in yoga classes in regard to the energy or subtle body? As teachers can we hold space for the subtle body of our students in a group practice led class?
In terms of physical assists, I support both the ‘Assist’ and ‘Don’t Assist’ approaches. I get all the energetic, emotional and practical reasons for not touching students, yet I personally choose to give hands on assists. I seek active consent first, and then use physical touch as a way to guide students deeper into connection with themselves and others. That said some days as soon as I touch the first student I realise today is not the right day for me to doing this kind of work as my energy is a little off, so I’ll back off and not touch anyone.
I also offer assists for my students’ subtle bodies - before class I bless the room to set the energy and intention, during class I use music to lift everyone up to a certain vibe, and during shavasana I meditate on moving energy around the room. As teachers we have so many different levels that we can support and guide our students on.
How about the chakras? Do you personally see people’s chakras and what is happening energetically there? How do you work with your own chakras (if at all)?
I’m generally pretty great at seeing my own chakras but am not that accomplished at seeing other peoples’ yet. I’m working on it!
My favourite translation of chakras is ‘gates of perception’ and that’s how I think of them - as opportunities to gain deeper understanding of how our subtle bodies resonate in our daily life. The book ‘Anatomy of the Spirit’ by Caroline Myss was a big influence on my understanding of the chakras and the role they pay in our spiritual development. I use moving through the chakras as the basis of my daily prayer practice and I recently launched a podcast - The Woo Woo ‘Verse - where in our first seven episodes we work though the chakras one by one.
For you, what’s the difference between attending group practice (classes) or practicing at home on your own? Which do you prefer? What are benefits of each on an energetic level?
This is such a big question for me as I’ve had so many varied experiences in my 13 years of practice.
For at least the first 7 years I only practiced in classes and very, very rarely at home. I just loved the group atmosphere and I always felt more focused and able when I practiced in a community. At that time I wasn’t formally working with energy but as an energy sensitive person I can now see how delightfully high I get from group classes!
This was great, but the lineage I was teaching in at the time had this really strong emphasis on a solid home practice being the foundation of being a good teacher, yet it never worked for me and it made me really doubt myself. The disconnect really did my head in and I spent a few years falling into a huge guilt trip of ‘I-must-do-it-I-suck-because-I-don’t-do-it’ black hole. Which actually lead me to realise that the voice in my head when I practiced this kind of yoga was exactly the same voice as the eating disorder I had in my late teens and early twenties. So I stopped practicing almost entirely for nearly two years while I sorted my shit out. As I slowly came back I started practicing a little bit of both at home and in class, just gently, gently trying to figure out how I could reshape my practice as something that healed me and didn’t hurt me.
Which turns out was divine guidance, because in October 2018 I suffered a devastating back injury that I’ve been working to heal ever since. The blessing of which is that since that day I’ve practiced by myself every day, wherever in the world I am, and my practice has become the most joyful and non negotiable part of my day. I don’t take classes at the moment because I need my practice to be complexity centered around me and my needs and groups classes can’t do that.
In parts of my life I’ve needed the group energy, right now I need the solo energy. I’m excited to see what the future holds.
Tell us about spirit guides and what they are and how we can start to foster a relationship with our guides.
Our spirit guides are our spiritual support squad. They’re here to help us navigate the complicated business of being a human being with a soul that’s here to learn, evolve and move on.
The best way to connect to them is to find silence - create some silence each day, learn to sit comfortably in it, and then start asking questions and listen for the answers to see what comes back. Sometimes it’s a voice, sometimes it symbols and signs through out the day. Ask and you will receive. Learning to talk to them, is a bit like learning a new language - you have to practice, you’ll suck at it before you’re good at it, and in the beginning you’ll spend a lot of time not understanding a thing! But practice and it will come.
How does that fit in with yoga philosophy?
It fits in with the idea of karma, rebirth and us being here to learn over multiple lifetimes. One of the my favourite teachings of yoga is that we are all divine and that by going inside we can learn to connect directly to that which is higher. Which describes the experience of connecting to your Spirit Guides almost perfectly!
We are both renegade Jivamukti teachers! What’s the biggest lesson you learned or continue to learn from the Jivamukti Method?
Jivamukti was where I learnt the importance of honouring your teachers, which I still use to ground and connect myself and I hope I always will.
What is your advice for newly graduating yoga teachers?
Don’t be afraid to suck for a while. Embrace the beginners mindset, it’s precious and beautiful. Teach from your heart. Centre every class around supporting and uplifting your students. Don’t worry about whether or not people like you, focus on whether or not they’re learning from you. Embrace your mistakes and learn from them. Learn the art of leaving your personal bullshit at the door and enjoy the holiday from your life that teaching a class can become. Also what’s the point of any of this if there’s no joy?
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