An interview with Tina Rath
October 7th, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tina teaches vinyasa flow classes Sundays at 6:00pm.
What was your biggest struggle with the practice when you first began?
I came to yoga after a lifetime of ballet and hip hop dancing and seven years of capoeira. I had many injuries, some decades old that I was able to push through in my teens and early 20’s but as I grew older, I realized pushing through was only causing deeper injury. So I came to yoga to heal my body. But the competitive person in me, the dancer who always had to “perform”, didn’t know how to just be with my body and let everything unfold in it’s on way on it’s own time. I was still pushing. My biggest struggle was to stop, tune into my body and acknowledge my physical limitations and let them be ok. In fact, let them be teachers.
What made you first want to be a teacher?
I see teaching as a refined form of listening. I taught art and subjects related to art at the university level for 10 years and it was during these years I honed my listening skills. Why is the student here? What are they hoping to or needing to gain? How can I help them understand the questions they are asking? How can I help them understand themselves better? During my university years, I took my first yoga teacher training to deepen my own practice. I had no intention of teaching yoga. It soon came clear to me that the same refined form of listening happens in the yoga studio, perhaps even more so. Seizing my first teacher’s suggestion to teach at the studio I had been practicing at for years, I saw that the body and the breath cannot hide anything. I tuned into my listening skills even more, eventually left my university position and never looked back!
What has yoga taught you?
Perhaps the better question is what has yoga not taught me? I often say I wish I had been exposed to yoga much earlier – I started practicing when I was 28 or 29. The clarity, the humility, and a strong sense of self yoga has taught me would have been very useful in my late teens and early 20’s. Yoga has taught me that I cannot go around a problem, ignore it, mask it with some other behavior, person or activity. The only way is to go right through the heart of it. Yoga gives me strength and courage with a deep awareness that no matter how long it takes, I can move through this one, too. Yoga has taught me that compassion and patience and understanding the limitations of the moment are the tools needed to work through whatever it is – physical, emotional or spiritual.
Talk about your personal practice?
For many years I was very disciplined and practiced every day. I felt if I was not doing a physical practice that I was not practicing yoga. If I missed a day, I felt guilty, disappointed and somewhat unanchored. Then there was a time when my life became extremely difficult and although I wanted more than anything for my practice to be the refuge it had often been in the past, it was not. Every time I came to the mat I literally dissolved into tears. I could only physically practice every now and again. I felt I had abandoned my practice and that made me even more distraught. But I was teaching during this time and I rededicated myself to teaching. My teaching became my practice and through teaching and listening and witnessing the beauty and honesty, compassion and dedication of my students, I found my way back to the physical practice. Now I may not physically practice everyday, but every moment is an opportunity to practice yoga. Living the more subtle aspects of yoga has deepened my practice more so than the ability to put my leg over my head.