I think we all know there's a lot of ego in yoga - it's a big reason the studio can be intimidating to first-timers. While it's always been there, I've been really noticing it lately and I think it's one of the hardest things about being a yoga teacher- not only trying to keep people safe when they insist on doing shit they're not ready for, but to help people get over themselves already as part of the practice.
I often tell the folks in my classes that they are welcome to stay in child's pose the entire time; I consistently remind them that skipping a flow is always an option, encourage them to notdo everything I say, and give lots of modifications for poses that are specifically tough or beyond the normal range of motion. I mean, I also challengethem, but I want them to know that they're making their own decisions, and that they have nothing to prove.
Because to me, yoga is about listening to your body - finding a connection that helps you know what you truly need and moving intuitively via that connection - it's like a conversation. And with all things in yoga, it's not so that you're better at yoga, it's so that you're better at life; you're building that toolset so you can take it off the mat, too. It's not about nailing the deepest possible expression of a pose or standing on your head; each shape offers it's own challenge that goes well beyond the physical and that's where the benefit is: how we can learn about ourselves along the way.
But that's just it: the along the waypart is just as important as the "final" pose part.
If you're jamming yourself into a pose so much that you can't breathe, you're not really in the pose. Suffice to say,nobody's impressed. If you're thinking about how that pose looksmore than how it feels, you're missing the point. And I think we get caught up in the same shit in life.
We throw around words like "advanced" in yoga, but I have my own definition of what I would call a truly "advanced" yogi - and it's not what you think.
To me, an "advanced" yogi is the one that uses the blocks; the one that takes child's pose and isn't shy to drop a knee in a high lunge twist. It's the one who finds stability before depth; who doesn't care if they're a few steps behind the rest of the class. It's the one who skips a flow, who can be humble whether they're super experienced or not. It's the one who can be right where theyare in their practice, that day.
I posted to IG yesterday about how learning a language can be so humbling, because as my buddy says, "you have to be wiling to speak like a child before you can speak like an adult," and I think this idea is relevant to everything. I was surprised by the reaction the post got, apparently a lot of people can relate. Because nobody wants to speak like a child; nobody wants to be a "beginner" at anything. We think there's either doing itornot doing it, and don't want to deal with the in between. But as long as we strive to keep growing, there will always bein between, something.
Where are you jamming yourself into a pose thinking it looksright but maybe it doesn't feelright?
Where can you reach for the metaphorical blocks and give yourself that little boost - maybe something doesn't have to be so hard?
Where are you rushing to keep up or beating yourself up for falling behind?
Where are you losing your breath?
Where are you just teetering in a posture, with no solid foundation, temporarily holding the shape but the lightest of breezes could topple you right over...?
Where are you avoiding a pose because it's not your "strongest?" What if you practiced it, meeting yourself where you are right now, and made it stronger?
My aim is sturdiness without strain. I've been reaching for blocks, working on building a more solid foundation, and learning from folks that know more than me in certain areas: akaasking for help. In one of those meetings today as we talked about not comparing ourselves to people who seem further along or more successful, my friend pointed out that we also must not rank ourselves as "better than" anyone who's a few steps behind us. I think, just like in yoga, we need to recognize that we're all on our own individual path and it's really impossible to compare ourselves to one another at all - different bodies, different circumstances, different places we expend our energy, just different stories, period. We're all walking our own path, we only need to hope to be moving forward; outpacing nobody but yesterday's version of ourselves.
Aug 2-5 in the Catskills
Still a few spots - get in there now!
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