By Deepa-Maria Mazzi
Witnessing the transformation of students through Svaroopa® yoga has motivated my teaching for over 20 years. I now teach seniors who have been with me for over a decade. Their dedication inspires me. Mostly, I teach for selfish reasons. Svaroopa® yoga changed my life. It taught me to be in charge of myself in a new way. Now I teach to share this with those open to receiving it.
In private sessions and yoga therapy as well as in classes, my focus is on self-empowerment tools. Thus, Ujjayi breathing is usually the foundational practice for students and clients. When they begin to use Ujjayi every day, they often have tears of gratitude. I assure them, I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I know you can be helped. I make sure they know that it’s the yoga dissolving the pain, in mind and body, not me. I’m just doing my job.
When people are in pain, friends and family usually don’t understand that they are burning up inside. This was my experience in my mid-thirties, living with excruciating pain. I felt helpless and so needy. Lying in bed, breathing, even wearing clothing — all caused pain. The common catchall diagnosis is fibromyalgia.
From my mother and grandmother, I heard it’s “just aging. You learn to live with it. That’s what we all do.” Yet after my first “accidental” Svaroopa® yoga class, I was pain free for three days. So I began taking weekly classes. Even from the first, I knew I wanted to teach.
As a teacher, I aim to convey that you get to choose, you get to make yourself a priority. As students allow healing from the yoga, they stop bending over backwards for friends and family. They no longer need to prove they are worthy of getting love. When they take charge of their own lives, they find the love they have been seeking outside is actually within.
For many, especially those in pain, they first see yoga as an escape. When they notice they are living more pain free, I talk straightforwardly about taking their yoga more into active, day-to-day living. Teaching them Tadasana, I guide them to stand in the Truth of who you are, with eyes open and a soft gaze. This is how to take blissful steadiness into the world.
As students begin to find the inner source of love and bring it into their lives, their relationships improve. Connections with family and friends become mutually loving. In the end, I teach because of this wonderful domino effect. It’s my way of contributing to the world.
This spring, I took all three of the Half Day Programs offered by Vidyadevi Stillman when she was teaching in San Diego. With super-challenging poses she nudged us beyond where we thought we could go. This experience got me excited about the possibility of expanding my teaching to younger students.
I see that younger folks are living in so much tension. Striving constantly to be connected through smart phones to the “outside,” they lose touch with themselves inside. I can foresee potential service to a younger generation, helping them take a deep, healing dive inward. As Swami Nirmalananda says, “Do more yoga.”