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Shaping awareness: on and off the yoga mat

As a teacher of physical disciplines for 20 years, I have come to a clear understanding about what I am teaching and how I am teaching it. I’m not talking about just moving the body and getting a sweat on, although that is a small part of it. I am teaching awareness on a deep fundamental level. I am teaching you to wake up and be accountable for your words, actions and everything in your life. I teach you because I care.

I’ve noticed how busy students are and how rushed the world seems around us, and of course we are all busy running around fitting everything in. I’m very aware of the sacrifices you had to make to get into the yoga room with me and I honour you for that. 



You’ve dealt with traffic, work, kids or things in your life that can create this hectic moment. You’ve faced illness, injury or sadness and all things possible from preventing you from entering the room and I so respect you for showing up (sometimes over 60 of you in one room and I am deeply thankful and honoured). 

All I ask is that you show up with full commitment and complete awareness. I’m writing this because I see you, I notice you.

If you make the decision to come to a yoga class, and you have faced the odds stacked against you to get you there in the first place, then stay for the class and give it your all. If you leave 5-10 min early because you need to rush off back to your life or rush to another class, or get to your phone or work… you are doing yourself a great disservice. Give yourself the opportunity to change.

I’m not thinking about me. I’m thinking about you. 



If you don’t allow yourself to settle down at the end of the class and rest in savasana then your nervous system will be jacked up, you will feel unsettled and ungrounded. All the benefit of focus and precision that you worked on in the class, all the details and effort that you put into your practice will not get the chance to settle in and integrate. Please know that everything else can wait. You are the most important thing in your life in that moment, so gift yourself a completion of a practice and rest. 

Would you walk out of a doctor’s or lawyer’s office before they had finished their consultation? You know they have spent years of study and dedication to help you in the best way they can and it’s the same for me. I have spent many years studying my art and continue to develop my training so I can share this knowledge with you. First and foremost I am a student and then I share what I learn in the best way I can.

Yoga is not something to tick off your to-do list for the day. Your practice is an exercise in mindful movement and a dedication to your own personal art. Your way of honouring yourself in the whole of life. It’s your time to yourself. It’s an opportunity to evolve and see yourself in new light. To recognise where we need to place our attention.

I think we all know what we are doing, we all know where our moral compass guides us. 

So, if you start packing your mat up and spraying it down before a class is finished then know that you are disrupting not only your practice but the practice of everyone in that room that struggled to get there and make the effort and time. I care about your practice and theirs. It’s my job and my passion.

You see, we are all in it together. The room of students as a community breathing together, moving together and sweating together. Doing our best in any given moment. 

Commitment is discipline and respect, it is awareness of yourself and others. We learn the lessons by observation without judgement and apply what we learn both on and off the yoga mat. So, make the extra effort, stay the duration, your body will thank you for it. 





Ari Levanael

With a long history of yoga practice spanning almost 30 years, Ari is a passionate and dedicated student of the yoga tradition. Currently, Ari holds over 1,700 hours of accredited yoga teacher-training in various styles, merging the traditional with a knowledge of gymnastics, martial arts and aerial acrobatics.

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