Yoga Instructor Mairin Matthews
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Student Spotlight Mairin Matthews

My Life Unfolding

What did I learn in my 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training at Marianne Wells Yoga School in Costa Rica? It really is real yoga!

While attending yoga classes at home before teacher training, I often felt anxious.

My mind was often overwhelmed by comparisons to those around me, anxieties about advancing in poses, and desires to meet my instructor’s expectations. No matter how hard I tried, I never attained a yoga practice where I could genuinely calm my mind, progress in the present moment, and feel the real benefits of yoga.

I was in search of self-discovery, in search of my purpose.

Prior to my journey to earn my 200-hour yoga instructor training certification, I was a stressed city-living yogi and educator (except I really shouldn’t have called myself a yogi just yet). I was working over sixty hours a week and often made decisions based on others’ needs. My health suffered as a result–I was hospitalized three times in one year!

Things needed to change – I just didn’t realize how dramatically they would change.

I had been “practicing yoga” since high school, but I never understood the power of “Really Real Yoga” until I attended Marianne’s training.

Marianne has a unique way of molding her students into teachers. She emphasizes being mindful, being aware of yourself and your students. That mindfulness renders a sensitivity towards students that gives them a feeling of comfort, and a tailored level of support. Being a yoga instructor can have great influence on a student’s practice, providing the knowledge to help them develop yoga skills and mindset – on and off the mat.

A teacher has the power to help calm student’s minds, to create space where students can turn inward – focus on their own practice, instead of those around them.

The training experience enabled me to understand how much I had been focused on external environment – feedback and opinions from others – at the expense of my own experience, expression, and health.

Since returning home, perspective on yoga has changed.

I’m in search of better teachers. I now know what I don’t want in my yoga instructor:

  • Never asking if anyone has attended their class before, is new to yoga, or has any injuries.
  • The sequence is rushed with words thrown out so quickly no one can keep up.
  • Limited queing where students fall over, look around, and get lost in the mix.
  • Mindless verbiage such as “Meditate!”, “Go deeper!” and “We’re breathing!” as if the teacher is cheering at a sports event.

In a recent class the teacher said, “Now go into Plow and Shoulder Stand – I don’t need to walk you through it.” I took a moment before properly transitioning myself into Halasana (taught in well-sequenced and safe steps by Marianne). I viewed a mass of students in the class breezing through a variety of positions – compromising their spine, breath and as a result, their mind.

Quickly, the feeling of anxiety I used to feel before training started to flood my mind again. I was unable to focus on my breath. There was a constant need to look around to follow along. My calmness was lost – no sense of fulfillment, relaxation, or release while walking out of that class! Here I was in my old behaviors, but also judging the instructor – because I know one can do much better for their students.

In these moments I remind myself that it’s not the teacher’s fault. They don’t know better. But they should.

As I have adopted the title of “teacher,” I will always remain a student. It’s so important to continue learning, to progress with my own practice.

Instructors must recognize the needs of each individual student who enters the class. Marianne taught me that if you uphold this mindfulness, you can approach students of all ability levels, ages, body types, strengths and weaknesses, and guide them successfully through their practice.

I have changed. I am grateful each day that I step onto my mat – as a student, or as a teacher.

Returning home, I tried to overcome the stresses of my job with yoga. But I realized I needed more change. I needed to take care of myself and find a new path.

So I quit my job. I’m happier now. New and exciting opportunities are being revealed each week. I have time for my personal practice, time to start teaching yoga the Really Real Yoga way. Time for living a life where I don’t know exactly what will come. Time for family, friends, and the man I love. I’m open to the possibilities of it all with a refreshed and much healthier outlook.

Marianne’s training showed me that although yoga has changed a lot in our modern world, the traditional aspects hold true and strong. It’s not just asanas. It’s about quieting the mind, union of movement with breath, and finding inner peace.

Yoga is for everyone–all body types, minds, personalities, and abilities.

I will never lose sight of Really Real Yoga and what it means to me. These realities exist for you as well. Simply trust in the process and have faith in yourself.

Mairin Matthews completed Marianne Wells 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in August 2015.

Student Spotlight Mairin Matthews, Certified Yoga Instructor

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