Pauline Sawyer – Core Tutor and Assistant Director Inner Yoga Trust
Since Jenny Beeken and I founded the Inner Yoga School we are often asked to teach students how to apply the transformational and healing effects of yoga. In recent years the question is ever more common. Perhaps this corresponds to the growing number of yoga teachers advertising themselves as ‘yoga therapists’, offering yoga as a form of therapy to address various emotional and physical conditions. To try and understand how the transformational and healing process can be taught to others, or indeed if it can be taught at all, first requires an understanding of how the practice of yoga does transform and heal.
‘This body is your home… You are filled with the source of all knowing… You are attuned to your body, and your body is attuned to the universe.’
I believe that the body is the temple of the spirit and needs to be kept in a healthy condition in order to allow the spirit to shine through into life. A continued practice of yoga in all its aspects (asana, pranayama, meditation and study of the sacred texts) is one way of bringing about a healthy body, a healthy mind and a healthy emotional state of well being. It keeps us in touch with our true self. When we begin to understand the body-mind connection and its own innate intelligence and ability to feel what is needed we can then begin to release any holding patterns. To quote Patanjali:
‘Yoga is the practical means of refining perception‘.
and B.K.S. Iyengar.
‘Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.’
It is through gentle practice and graceful movements, working with ones uniqueness, and with the guidance of good teachers, that the body, mind and spirit can establish harmony. This practice and inner knowledge of the needs of ones own body can enable the intuitive ability of understanding another person’s needs.
Movement from the core of our being – our body has the intelligence to know how it needs to move.
It is true to say that yoga teachers can only teach from their own practice, from their own experience and ultimately from their own personal transformation. A teacher has to surrender to the effects of yoga, and of life for they are exactly analogous, on the mind, body and soul thus allowing the practice of yoga to transform ourselves. This process requires the ability to focus internally and observe what it means to be with your self and to work with what rises to the surface.
When a teacher understands their own body, from the inner awareness born from their own practice, it becomes possible to read and understand someone else’s body. It is then that teachers are able to start developing the deeper skills of working with the transformation and healing aspects of others.
How can a student teacher experience and develop this inner awareness of the body-mind-spirit connection? The structure of the Inner Yoga teacher training and awareness programme aims to directly help developing teachers step outside the everyday routine of life, giving them the space they require to experience their transformational process. Based wholly on residential weekends and summer school retreat weeks, combined with the practice of overnight silence and early meditation throughout, the teaching programme provides an environment where one can open this awareness.
My response is always the same when asked to teach the transformational and healing practices to others. I don’t believe it is something that can be taught, in the traditional sense, and the point is missed if one thinks otherwise. The student must learn first-hand about the process and the gifts that it brings. With experience and reverence for the transformational journey and for the creative life-force within each of us, it is possible to develop ones abilities to work with others in the same way.
Pauline Sawyer has practised and taught yoga on an inner level since 1979 and founded the Inner Yoga School with Jenny Beeken in 1992. Her deep insight and understanding of the body and its link to the mind and spirit comes through her personal practice and extensive study of other disciplines. Pauline leads the Inner Yoga Teacher Training programmes in Scotland (working closely with Dawn Baillie), Wales and Ireland.
Pauline’s teaching is informed by her work with (and study of) Kofi Busia, Jenny Beeken, Victor Van-Kooten and Angela Farmer, BKS Iyengar, Diane Long and Sophie Hoare. Her teaching demonstrates a deep understanding of the inner body, inner awareness and movement. Pauline brings her insight and intuitive awareness into her teaching, emphasising the balance of the inner energies and healing oneself and others through yoga.