It’s gonna be great!
It’s gonna be awesome!
I have a really good feeling about this!
~ Christina Sell
I imagine that few people forget the first time they meet Christina Sell – her small stature doesn’t mask her powerhouse physique and radiance of vital energy. As John Friend has described her, she is “the tinkling delight of Spirit incarnated in a vibrantly fit woman.” (Yoga from the Inside Out). Through the blessings of other gifted teachers, I had been drawn to Anusara yoga prior to my first class with Christina last September. Her mastery of the alignment principles of the body – infused with the language of the heart – allows students of all levels to experience deep and profound openings in their bodies and a connection with the divine unlike anything I had experienced. When the choice of a mentor in YYTT came about, the only question I had: “Would she take ME on?”
Since that first class just a year ago, I have been blessed to study and receive instruction and inspiration from Christina in many formats – in her classes, weekend workshops, YYTT, and now the Anusara immersion, to her book, her blog, and sharing personal conversations and emails. Christina’s approach and outreach is a testimony to the “Tantric philosophy of intrinsic goodness that underlies the methodology of teaching Anusara yoga” (from the Anusara website, She enthusiastically builds and cultivates the kula with her attitude, alignment, and action! If there is such a thing as a Yoga Warrior it is embodied in the form of Christina Sell.
To document specific things she has said to help an injured student or suggestions she makes for prop uses to assist those with tight hip flexors, would be no different I expect than what any schooled yoga teacher might offer. For me, the greatest lesson I have received from Christina – one that I work to integrate into my own practice, teaching and life – is the importance of attitude.
An Attitude of Community – Christina connects with her students. She makes an effort to meet everyone before class. She works to remember names and USES them throughout class. Students feel connected to her and each other. You’re not just another student on the tally sheet. She cultivates community both on and off the mat. I will work towards that same goal in my teaching practice.
An Attitude of Light-Heartedness – Christina has taught me that asana practice can (and should) be playful and fun. Her self-deprecating teaching style and use of humor allows students to relax, to not take themselves so seriously, and to “be okay” where they are in their practice and WHO they are as a person. As a student, it is easy to become frustrated with your inability to do something – whether it’s from lack of balance or fear of falling or inflexible body parts. Humor can quickly diffuse that frustration: “There are some lovely people in the Tight Hamstring Club,” Christina will say, prompting appreciative chuckles when she adds, “It isn’t a moral shortcoming.” Silly? For sure! But many of us need that obvious reminder to let go of critical self-judgments.
An Attitude of Commitment, Discipline & Devotion – Christina has taught me to find the edge, the work, and the beauty in each asana. I learned Urdhva Hastasana could be a LOT more than holding my arms over my head. By practicing asana with an attitude of commitment, we are mindful of the principles necessary to work in the pose – the foundation, the alignment, the flow of energy. The pose becomes more vital and a greater expression of the divine. Her attitude of devotion inspires her students to work HARD. She reminds us that asana practice is an offering, a prayer in motion, an expression and reflection of the divinity. When the mental effort to hold a pose begins to wane, this attitude of devotion and alignment with grace helps to sustain our physical efforts.
To become a yoga teacher, it is certainly important to learn how to correctly teach a pose, how to modify for injuries, how to field questions and provide resources, and how to make your students “more comfortable.” Those things can be learned through books and presentations. But it is equally important to cultivate an attitude and style that inspires your students to deepen their practice. That is not something that can be instructed, but must be experienced first-hand to fully understand its import. I feel incredibly blessed to have had that opportunity under Christina Sell, and I truly hope to offer that same kind of humor, enthusiasm and love for this practice to my students. In the words of my dear mentor …
“I drank the Kool-Aid!”