A Yoga Weekend Workshop with Shirley Daventry-French

Iyengar yoga

Lead by example with your yoga

It had been eight years since I’d taken a yoga workshop with Shirley Daventry French; it was high time I took another.   I was looking forward to the workshop I recently went to because, aside from Shirley being a brilliant teacher, it was going to have only 24 students in it instead of the the usual 100+.   There’d be no place to hide!

The first night of the workshop went off without a hitch.  On the second day, a Saturday morning, Shirley started in the usual way by sharing her words of wisdom.  She brought up what I call the “fallacies” of yoga, those things people tend to believe: yoga is about the superficial; the final look of the pose, one’s flexibility, and the clothes they wear.  (To be fair, I added the last one.)  She then opened the floor to questions.  I piped up, “Shirley, as teachers how do we get the message across to people that yoga isn’t about those things?”  In her wise-sounding sophisticated British accent Shirley answered,

It starts with you.


Now as profound an answer it was on it’s own I had to smile because I had heard it before, as in the day before.

She was right though.  The best teachers don’t go around shouting at people trying to convince them of what they already know, they lead by example; their yoga practice speaks for itself.  Shirley has seen this first hand after her 40+ years of teaching.   She teaches, like I do, that yoga is improving the mobility, stability, and strength in our bodies, not about flexibility.   Yoga teaches us to be present and to focus.  In our yoga practice we learn to concentrate so well we can meditate.  (That’s what meditation is by the way, deep focused concentration, not hippie dippie levitation type stuff.)   Yoga poses are meditations in motion.  Yoga teaches us to become more self-aware without the need of triggers.  And most importantly,


Yoga is about building consciousness.


(Pause for reaction.)


That’s right.  Yoga can take you higher, metaphorically speaking.   With a regular yoga practice, you can become more present.  When you become more present you become more aware.  When you become more aware you get to know yourself better.  When you know yourself better you can work on becoming a better you.  When you’re a better you you start to have more compassion and empathy for others.  And when empathy grows love flows.

My final two cents:  Remember that yoga can be practiced all day, every day.  Yoga is available to anyone at anytime, even you.  Especially you!  The benefits of a daily yoga practice will creep on you but I promise you, they will show up.  In fact, this happens on it’s own, a compound effect from all your hours on the mat or meditation cushion.


So get started, it all begins with you.

“It starts with you.”  

– Shirley Daventry French

‘Pure and Applied’ Weekend Iyengar Yoga Workshop, Saturday, August 29, 2015

Join my mailing list

Get weekly tips for a happier & safer practice