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The Practice of Space

a commitment to teaching

August 10, 2010 by James

“The image I had of what teaching might look like and the idea I had of what commitment meant were getting in the way… Working with a daily mantra practice I found the space to challenge the habitual mind of ‘I can’t.'”

James Ward reflects on beginning as a Radha Yoga teacher in England.

In amongst the potatoes on my dad’s allotment, I notice how different the weeds are here in this English earth to those at Yasodhara Ashram. The earth itself is different of course, as are some of the crops. Today I start doing a similar karma yoga to that I did at the ashram last summer during the teacher certification: tending to the garden and harvesting the fruit provided. The familiar symbols are comforting and I feel the bounty all around me ready to be harvested.

When I returned to England last autumn after the teacher certification, I found I kept telling myself “I don’t know what I want to create.” I knew that offering Swami Radha’s teachings to others was to be part of deepening my understanding of them and to expressing gratitude for all I had been given, so getting involved with the Radha community here and teaching became one focus. During the Hidden Language course I learned that to connect with heart and wisdom, I needed to focus on breath. This is evident in a very practical way – my physical heart rests on my diaphragm and so is intimately connected to how I breathe – but what I also learned was that the space inherent in the breath is so complete of itself that whatever my mind might be saying, like not knowing what to create, I don’t actually need to always be busying myself with what things, or life, might look like.

On my return, the uncertainty of my situation – particularly not knowing how long I might be living in the city I found myself in – was a real hindrance to getting out there and offering classes. When it came to mustering the energy to start teaching, a voice kept saying “I can’t start teaching if I might only be here a couple of weeks.” The image I had of what teaching might look like and the idea I had of what commitment means were getting in the way. This is where my personal connection with the teachings was there to support me.

Working with a daily mantra practice I found the space to challenge the habitual mind of “I can’t.” On the simplest level, this challenge came directly from the commitment to do the practice every day. The fact of having to make the space in each day to do the practice helped me to meet this habitual mind head on. The resulting space was crucial in supporting me through the decision to teach, the various steps of setting up classes, and the reality of offering them. Hatha practice, in particular Hidden Language, has supported this process too by helping me find ease with myself and a more willing flow with my life circumstances.

The reality of what has manifested – a monthly Hidden Language class and a small dream group that meets at the group’s convenience, as well as being available to support the retreats that happen at the Pakefield retreat centre – is much lighter and more pragmatic than I had imagined a commitment to teaching would be. It allows for an element of spontaneity.

In the same way that my dad’s allotment differs from the ashram garden, teaching outside of the ashram is a very different experience. The need to hold the space is much more apparent and becomes my primary focus.  This is amazingly beneficial to me and to the students. It helps to take my ego out of the process, as well as providing me with a rich and intense practice of holding space rather than filing it. This both draws on and supports my personal practice. More importantly however, the nurturing of space allows the teachings to do the work. The teachings respond beautifully to do the work they need to.

Hari Om

James Ward, A Radha Yogi and Yoga Development Course 2008 graduate, completed the Hidden Language and Kundalini & Dreams Teacher Training courses last summer 2009. He has since been living and teaching in Norwich, England. More info and teaching news can be found on his website, jai yoga.


  1. Thanks!!

    Comment by paula richardson — August 12, 2010 @ 1:42 am

  2. thanks for this intelligent and honest reflection, James

    Comment by karin scarth — August 12, 2010 @ 9:04 am

  3. Very nice to hear what you have been doing.
    Good job on your reflections.

    Comment by Jyoti — August 17, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

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