Jo Buick :: The Intimacy of Yoga

I never really expected yoga to teach me these things. In fact, I don’t think I even knew that these were things to be learned. And yet, the longer I practice, the more intimate and interested I feel – not only with myself and with others, but also with the world around me.

What does it mean to be a great teacher? How has your perception of teaching changed since you started?

I am always drawn to teachers who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable, or to be questioned. Because we are working with material that is spiritual, and with bodies that hold stories, I think that great teachers offer invitations, rather than answers.

My perception of teaching hasn’t so much changed since I started, but rather I am learning to relax more within my teaching. Before becoming a yoga teacher, I was a high school teacher – I learned how to teach in classrooms full of 14-year-old boys and in community spaces where participation wasn’t voluntary and you had to work really hard to secure engagement. I guess with practice, I am learning that it’s OK to be soft, to be feminine in my teaching. That it’s OK to be imperfect, and to not have all of the answers. That no-one will superglue the seat of my chair, or start a fight in class if they get bored (hopefully).

How has your practice of yoga, on and off the mat, influenced your relationships with others?

Over the years, I have learned that yoga is ultimately a practice in intimacy. It is a practice in sensuality, in connection, in discipline and in patience. It is a practice in finding the balance between surrendering, and making mindful choices that support your body, your mind, your heart.

I never really expected yoga to teach me these things. In fact, I don’t think I even knew that these were things to be learned. And yet, the longer I practice, the more intimate and interested I feel – not only with myself and with others, but also with the world around me.

I also think that practicing yoga has encouraged me to appreciate and experience the divine in the quieter, smaller moments so that I don’t feel so attached to perfection and ease in the bigger moments. We often put pressure on our relationships to fill perceived sensory gaps in our lives. Learning to celebrate and recognise the beauty and impermanence of everything – from the most mundane gesture like sitting in traffic, through to the big stuff like falling in love – allows an emotional spaciousness within relationships.

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Image courtesy of Slow Waves

What do you love most about teaching yoga at the moment?

I love that there is a broadening inquiry and interest in somatic and mindfulness practices. I love that there is a community building here in Melbourne that is deeply interested in and committed to spiritual practice. I love that there is the openness to interweaving themes of social justice, feminism, embodiment and connection into our practice and conversations. I love that yoga studios are becoming a place of connection and community activism. I love that Heart of Yoga (Desikachar) is trending and there is a more conscious movement around slower, heartfelt practices.

What is one practice or ritual that you savour, just for yourself?

Cooking. I love being in the kitchen, and try to create space each week to make something that takes time, that can’t be rushed.

We recently moved to the Surf Coast here in Victoria, and after years of living in the city – cooking in a kitchen that overlooks a garden is so dreamy. And for some reason, without the buzz of traffic outside, I feel like there is more permission to take longer in the kitchen. I like playing a podcast or listening to music, and allowing the process to take time. Nothing better than the smell of something baking and music playing in the background ☺

What are you reading right now?

I always have a few on the go – at the moment I am reading 3 Novels by Cesar Aira, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga in Therapy by David Emerson (in preparation for teacher training coming up in September), and an illustrated Introduction to Sensual Massage book from the 70s that I picked up in a vintage bookshop outside of Cairns a few weeks ago.

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Image courtesy of Slow Waves

When it comes to looking after yourself, what are your non-negotiables?

This is one that I find myself re-learning over and over – my own personal groundhog day…! I believe that as teachers – and humans – we are at our best when we feel rested, and that we make our best decisions when we feel loved and supported. I tend to take on too many projects at once, and as an introvert, feel drained if I don’t value ‘downtime’ between teaching and meetings. I have to remind myself that it is OK to be vulnerable, to say ‘Let me get back to you’ instead of ‘Yes’, and to ask for help when I need it.

My non-negotiables are (and I say this as a reminder to myself as well) – dedicated time at the beginning of each week to organise my diary, a daily yoga and meditation practice, nourishing meals, and time outside each day – whether that is walking, running, surfing or just taking five minutes to myself.

What does it mean to be a real life yogi?

I guess that really depends on how you define ‘yogi’. I like to think of yoga as a practice that leads to a deeper embodiment, deeper sensitivity and a more profound connection with self, with others and the world around us. What that looks like and feels like might be completely different for different people. So in line with that, a ‘real life yogi’ might be someone who is deeply interested in the details – breath, bones, movement, touch – but also in a broader consciousness, perhaps through service and connection.

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Image courtesy of Slow Waves

 

ABOUT JO

Jo teaches yoga because she believes in the power of movement and mindfulness to ground, to enliven, and to bring us back home into our bodies. In her experience, it’s not so much the ‘level’ of yoga or meditation that we can achieve in our practice, but rather the gentle journey towards compassionate thinking and living that is transformative.

Jo loves working with students at all levels of experience and aims to teach classes that are inclusive, welcoming and inspiring for beginners through to experienced yogis. A former high school teacher and youth programs manager, Jo is especially interested in trauma-aware practices, and the potential of embodied processing to empower, to heal, and to transform. 

In addition to teaching public classes and workshops, Jo facilitates trauma-informed yoga and self-care programs for organisations, their staff and their clients through the recently founded NFP, State of Being.

 

FIND JO

website | slowritual.com | stateofbeing.org.au
instagram | @jo.buick
facebook | Slow Rituals by Jo Buick

 

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