Our Kind of Yoga

I’m wondering what is the collective noun for a group of yoga teachers.  If we have a parliament of owls, an exultation of larks and a smack of jelly fish, then surely we can come up with something original for a gathering of lycra-clad bendy folk who teach yoga?

The reason for my pondering is that I’ve just completed an up-skill huddle for yoga teachers (By the way, I don’t think ‘huddle’ counts because it connotes groups conferring in whispers, rather than nutters offering up the bonkers conversation and laughter that I’ve just experienced).  This annual weekend get-together coaxes yoga teachers – trained and honed over many seasons by our Ladyship Ann-See Yeoh* – to travel from far and wide to her South West yoga studio.  Our kind of up-skilling (in case you are interested)  involves exchanging  stories, rolling out our yoga mats and – naturally – eating vegan cake. Lots of it. This really is My Kind of Yoga.

Gathering some 18 yoga ambassadors in one studio ensures an eclectic mix of background, experience, age and yoga kit.  (I’m also pondering whether it is wrong to experience yoga mat and body art envy.  I’ll park this for another time).  It additionally ensures the integrity of your core because laughing apparatus (no Sanskrit here) has to be firmly engaged for the duration of the up-skill. This is non-negotiable;you even have to sign a disclaimer.  Our photo alone should evidence that we hold no truck with yoga stereotypes here: I rest my case with cage-fighter-osteopath-dad on the back row and fifty-something-English teacher-runner-self (your’s truly) attempting to blend in at the front.

I’d love to share some deep yoga wisdom with you, but when I reflect back on the weekend, I realise that toilet rolls were a major and recurring motif – not because of any dodgy catering, but because apparently the landlord for the barn complex in which the yoga studio is housed has recently installed CCTV to catch an alleged toilet roll thief. This toilet roll bandit has been the recent scourge of the communal toilets that serve this office and studio community.  The quirkiness of this ‘crime’ appeals to our group . We quickly instate an obligatory bag check and take it in turns to patrol the toilets, updating  a hastily laminated sign reading, ‘this toilet was checked at 14:00 hours and all toilet rolls were present and correct.Namaste from DTRH ( Designated Toilet Roll Holder)’.  Fighting only breaks out one lunch time when it is discovered that the one unguarded kitchen roll has gone missing from besides the kettle.  Yogic Icon that she is, Ann-See suggests some deep nasal breathing and we return to our mats for the afternoon session and a surreptitious snooze.

Put yoga teachers together, and conversation will always return to bodily functions.  By the end of day one, a hot topic of debate is the therapeutic bowel benefits of practising yoga, the optimum number of poos a person should have each day and whether this correlation may lead us to discover the identity of THE Toilet Roll Bandit. One teacher tells the story of a client who – before taking up yoga –  overshared that they took only one poo a week.  Happily, thanks to yoga,  this client is now regularly visiting the bathroom; the down side  is that she is now – understandably  – spending less time on her mat. At least she is flowing.

Once the topic of bowel movements has been cleared for take off, there is little that is out of bounds over the weekend.  No word of a lie, during these two days, my mind – along with my body – is stretched by the following information:

  • Some people can’t bear to massage their own feet.
  • Some people can’t even bear to look at their feet so always wear socks on the yoga mat.
  • Walking across another person’s mat is the yogic equivalent of stealing toilet rolls.
  • Some women (thankfully, very few and no-one attending the up-skill!) collect their own menstrual blood and use it to ‘water’ their plants (not a euphemism).
  • Some people can’t bear to have their two inside ankle bones touching each other.

For this hoard of information alone I feel my continued professional development has been secured; the added yoga expertise is a pure bonus.

For the record, what I already knew before the weekend, but just thoroughly loved experiencing all over again is:

  • Yoga teachers (well these particular ones) are so flipping generous with their time and expertise. They just don’t hold back.
  • Vegan food is lush even if you’re not vegan
  • Sweaty Betty do make exceptionally good yoga kit (albeit expensive and other brands are available)
  • Yoga teachers categorically do not steal toilet rolls.  (I’d go as far to say that they couldn’t give a c**p).

Trying to find an equivalent for this weekend in my own world of education, the best I can come up with is a school foreign exchange trip.  During my initial yoga training two years’ ago, I was lucky to be ‘twinned’ with Debbie,  a yoga teacher from Scotland.  Thanks to social media, since then we’ve been firm ‘pen pals’, and for this weekend I get to be her ‘host’.  In addition to lying on her yoga mat, my ‘pen pal’ runs the most superb gin company north of the border**and before she flies in for the weekend, she sends some contraband ahead to ensure we will stay bendy (well, lubricated) on the mat.  Unfortunately, someone must have snitched to Matron Yeoh, for when we arrive (late) for our first yoga session on day one, 16 yoga teachers are in place, a gin glass set expectantly beside each yoga mat and some juniper berry joss sticks already burning. Tasting note to self: you are never going to become teacher’s pet unless you learn to share.

Thankfully we are quickly distracted from any awkwardness with a run through of next month’s yoga practice.  There is always an intention for the lesson plan and with credit to Claire we are just about to morph from BeContent into BeHappy.  I am already quite content and quite happy due to my overnight discovery of rhubarb flavoured gin, however, thanks to Claire delivering some yogic  ‘glitter moments’, this bonhomie is soon more generously distributed  around the room.   Another teacher –  Lisa – then shares that she runs magical yoga sessions for children in her Irish Yoga Loft***; mats serve as magic blankets and  she sprinkles a  smattering of ethical glitter as they take their voyage of discovery. (Rhubarb gin also has this effect if you are a responsible adult and have no glitter or yoga mat to hand #justsaying, but my inner child still wants to book into Lisa’s class).

As I drive back from dropping Debbie at the airport, I am still musing over collective nouns.  A gin of yoga teachers?  A toilet roll of ambassadors?  A glitter of instructors?  I’m nursing a bit of a hangover so  I am perhaps not as creative as I should be.  I wimp out and Google it – someone’s bound to have thought of this.  They have.

A salutation of yoga teachers.

Now, that’s Our Kind of Yoga.  Can’t wait to see you all in Ireland next year!


*Ann-See Yeoh: My Kind of Yoga

**Shetland Reel (The Adventure Begins Here )

*** The Yoga Loft: Carrickfergus




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