Courage, Acceptance and Yoga
Opinion: The practice of yoga is wavering on its intention. Yin and Yang...two opposing forces that remain balanced by keeping a piece of the other within itself. Despite the separate strengths, one does not dominate the other.
What appears imbalanced? The hundreds of trademarked styles. The audaciously declared "right" way to do a pose...as if each body was anatomically identical. The inflation of the egos vs. focus on the heart. The pride in sweating in 100+ degree rooms thinking that the more sweat...the better.
Call me old school...tell me I just don't get it...tell me things have changed and I'm not keeping up with the times...but, I assure you...I get it...I just have life experience to know the difference.
Practicing yoga with the Serenity Prayer mindset reminds you to find your balance. If you have weak muscles, have the courage to actively engage them in each pose. Notice if you're straining too much and back off a bit. Accept you don't have the strength you wish or think you should have now and move with courage to change it. You may never do the perfectly balanced headstand without the wall; but, pursuing it builds courage. Courage builds inner strength. Inner strength respects and knows the difference between what really matters and what doesn't. Leave the illusions and distortions of reality to the television. Keep it real on the mat.
Had a student approach me to inquire why her heel hurts when doing Warrior I. Observing the pose, structural alignment appeared correct. Asked her to move her back leg a little bit off the "invisible" line we think our feet should be standing on. Had her turn her back foot a tiny bit more into its angle and voila'...the discomfort was gone.
The first comment after "wow...it doesn't hurt anymore" was "I was always told this is the proper way to do the pose".
No offense fellow teachers...but, if you're teaching there is only one correct way to do a pose, it is time to hit the anatomy books. Students trust and assume we know best. Yes, we've taken training, continuing education, etc.; however, we must remember to have the courage to admit to ourselves we don't know it all. We need to accept (with open arms) the knowledge of the body's anatomy, energy, psychology, and spirituality is like snow flakes. Not a single one is identical. There is sameness and difference rolled in one. People are no different. Like the Yin and Yang forces...we're here to help others find their balance.
Students...if you have teachers claiming to be experts and that their way is "the way"...I hope your intuition antennas vibrate. Yoga is not a religion; however, the onslaught of styles is comparable to the history of religion. Many branches broke off to declare their slant of beliefs and practice is THE way. Claiming superiority is a dangerous tip in the scales of balance. There is a perceived safety in sameness; however, there is danger in not respecting and learning from differences. I believe we have enough wars to illustrate that opinion.
We are each other's teachers and students. We are meant to keep other in check and balance. The serenity we seek is the blend of courage and acceptance....and a sprinkle of ego to keep the fire burning for changes we seek. Change is coming...always has...always will...and its necessary to evolve. Each epiphany in life is realizing a secret you already knew.
Have the courage to change what you can. Accept what you can't. Build the wisdom to know the difference. (Practice some yoga and see how it can build your courage and wisdom...you might be surprised by what you can change.)