TEACHER FEATURE: Sean Toland

Sean Toland

1) When and how did you first start practising?

I first started practising yoga in 2012. I tried it out because I was experiencing some minor back pain and I couldn’t really do what I wanted at the gym. I was also a Firefighter at the time and it was affecting my ability to do my job well. Thankfully, not long after I went to my first yoga class, I took a break from my job and I went travelling. My first experience of an Ashtanga Mysore-style class was with Rolf Naujokat in Goa, India.

2) How you feel or what did you think after that first time?

Despite being slightly out of my comfort zone, I enjoyed the challenge and I was hooked from the very beginning. The combination of breath and movement was so powerful and I remember experiencing a sense of peace and clarity I’d never felt before. I think it also encouraged me to ask some deeper questions about the purpose of my own life and existence itself. Not long after, I started to explore some modern spiritual classics, the yoga sutras and other philosophical texts.

3) What inspired you to teach? And why do you continue to teach?

In Dubai 2015, my teacher Olivier David asked if I was interested in assisting him. I had some time off in between my shifts at work so it worked out quite well. I was just curious and I wanted to help people, so it seemed like a decent opportunity. Honestly, I didn’t really enjoy it much to begin with and I found it quite difficult, but over time as I improved and I gained some more confidence I started to really love it and I found it very fulfilling. I continue to teach now because the practice is my passion, I enjoy giving back and I love being part of a community. I think it’s really important for us nowadays to have that sense of connection with people and be part of a group or a satsang. Any yoga shala can be a great vessel for that.

4) How has your practice affected your life and perspective on it?

When I first started practising I had a lot of anger. I’d say the practice has most certainly calmed me down. I think, like any spiritual/mindfulness practice, it gives you that extra split second of awareness before you’ve completely lost control. Krishna Das says, ‘It gives you a vote’. As you feel that emotion arising you have more time to choose your action, whereas before you wouldn’t have had a choice. You were a victim of your own unconsciousness and that can be very destructive. I think having a daily practice gives you a sense of purpose and meaning and as a human being that’s really important. It also increases your mental resilience, so you’re in better shape to deal with the unpredictability of this fast-paced and intimidating world around you.

5) Share something fun about yourself.

I love house music and I used to dabble with a bit of DJing. I also love playing golf when I get the chance!

Join Sean everyday for Ashtanga Mysore!

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