Meet BWY teacher Linda Irving. The British Wheel of Yoga describes itself as there ‘for your life long yoga journey’. This BWY teacher has certainly proved that to be true in her own life.
In recent years, yoga has become one of the most popular modern fitness trends. Yoga studios are popping up all over the place as yoga is seen as trendy and hip, a great way to develop a strong body and a calm mind. It’s easy to forget with all the new, funky yoga fads, like Goat Yoga and Beer Yoga and Naked Yoga and…the list goes on and on and on…, that yoga has been around for a very long time indeed. Our modern yoga practice is rooted in an ancient yogic tradition that goes back thousands of years. And even in the UK, the practice of yoga began long before many of these cool, young yogis were even born!
Take the British Wheel of Yoga for example.
The British Wheel of Yoga (BWY) was founded in 1965 by Wilfred Clark (1898 – 1981), who had been practising yoga during his service in the army in the First World War. BWY
Today, the British Wheel of Yoga is the largest yoga membership organisation in the UK, and members benefit from that wealth of yoga practice, experience and teaching gained over more than 50 years. There’s a sense of heritage with the British Wheel of Yoga, a depth of wisdom that only comes with time.
BWY member Linda Irving has been practising yoga for over 36 years, inspired originally by her mother who’d already been practising yoga for years before that. Her mother had trained as a yoga teacher to deepen her own practice, but had never taught. Linda was drawn to yoga as a form of exercise, a good way to keep fit. However, her second yoga teacher was a devotee of Swami Satchidananda, who was Chairman of BWY at the time. Linda had the privilege of meeting him a few times when he came over to the UK and visited her teacher’s house. She then discovered more what yoga was all about and continues to follow the spiritual teachings of Swami Satchidananda’s Integral Yoga, having worked with several other Swamis from the Integral Yoga Ashram.
When her teacher Lakshmi Waters encouraged her to do a yoga teacher training, Linda had no intention of ever teaching. She had a young family to look after and had her third child during the three years of training. However, as she discovered more and more about the benefits and tradition of yoga, she realised that she had a responsibility to share with others what she herself had learnt. In 1990, Linda started to teach yoga within the Adult Education system. At that time, yoga was still often viewed with suspicion as a bit weird. It certainly wasn’t as accepted back then. When students came to class, they expected keep fit and nothing more, just as Linda had originally expected herself. And so Linda took things slowly, gradually introducing more of the philosophy and deeper aspects of yoga. And some of those very first students still come to Linda’s classes today!
In conversation with Linda Irving, we were fascinated to find out how things have changed in the yoga world since then.
Back then, yoga was yoga. That was it. Now there are so many different styles, which is probably a good thing, because people can find the right style of yoga to match their personality. In the early days, I got to meet many visiting swamis and gurus. That doesn’t happen in the same way anymore. Now it sometimes seems to me that everyone thinks they’re a guru! And of course, because yoga has grown in popularity, the yoga community is not as personal as it was. My BWY membership number is 890 and now there are thousands of members. But we have good regional monthly meetings with a different yoga teacher each time which works well. Linda Irving
It’s clear in talking with Linda that she has not lost her passion for yoga. Her eyes light up when she describes the chair yoga class that she takes in a local day centre with men and women in their eighties and nineties. She realises how invaluable this mental and physical stimulation is for these individuals. Yoga is of benefit for everyone. It’s just about finding the right yoga. In all her classes, she offers many modifications as needed. With her years of experience comes a confidence to be able to offer the right alternatives for each individual.
Linda has been teaching the BWY Foundation Course since 2002. Many students come on the course with a view to continuing onto the BWY Teacher Training Course. Others come to deepen their own personal practice. Linda loves how her own understanding, practice and teaching of yoga have evolved in the years that she’s been teaching this course. It’s important to never stand still. Over the years, Linda has been open to experience several styles of yoga – Iyengar, Ashtanga, Dru, Kripalu etc. – and is able to draw on this to benefit her practice and teachings. She still undertakes regular BWY training and attends other CPD events. She will never feel that she has arrived. She will never stop learning.
Even with all these years of experience, Linda still creates a clear lesson plan for every class. It’s what she teaches on the Foundation Course and it’s what she believes in for herself. She actually plans a whole term of classes with a progression throughout the term. It makes complete sense to her.
We concluded our conversation with Linda Irving with a few quickfire questions that we’ll leave you with.
What’s so great about yoga?
Mobility and flexibility, they’re the two obvious benefits that people notice. Then there’s the calm and the balance that yoga brings, a great way to relieve stress.
Why join the British Wheel of Yoga?
I believe the BWY offers a thorough, in depth, broad understanding of yoga that you won’t find anywhere else. The students on the Foundation Course practise all different styles of yoga and there’s a massive personal development in each of their lives throughout the course, whether they go on to teach yoga or not.
How has yoga changed your life?
Yoga has been for me so much more than just what I do on the mat. It’s affected my everyday life. It’s helped me maintain peace and equilibrium, even in difficult times. I’m more content and peaceful than I would have been without it.
How long do you intend to keep teaching yoga?
I have a feeling I’ll be teaching yoga until I drop. I’m still as passionate about it as I was in the beginning. I do plan to cut back at some stage to have more time to spend with my grand-daughter, but I love my classes so much.
What do you feel about the benefits of time?
I certainly believe it pays to be patient. I see too many students who are impatient to teach yoga without allowing the time for the personal development on and off the mat. That’s what’s so great about the BWY 500 hour teacher training. It takes two and a half years to complete and that timespan is important. It becomes about learning about yourself first and then passing it on.
If you’d like to find out more about Linda Irving, then visit YogaLinda
If you’d like to find out more about the British Wheel of Yoga, then visit www.bwy.org.uk
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