participate in your own experiment
In these days of crowded classes and information overload it is quite a challenge to navigate through what all those OTHER bodies are doing and figure out what can work for YOUR body.
Yoga is personal when it helps us live better in the body we live in NOW.
The body we live in now is not the body from last year or the body we are hoping to have next year.
The body we live in NOW is not the body before the babies, before the new job, before we traveled a few more places and learned a few more lessons.
Yoga is personal when we discard the stories we told ourselves about our body and reject the stories others told us about our body and begin to heal the body we have NOW.
Yoga is personal when we finally throw out the labels of what our body should be, what our body shouldn't be so we can begin to uncover how our body can help us FEEL better.
Everybody comes to yoga for different reasons.
We seek out tools to manage back pain, sleep better, or lengthen parts of our body that feel permanently stuck. Our reasons are personal and are revealed in the way we move or don't move, in our ability or inability to respond and recover from both physical and emotional stress. Heck, our individuality shows up in the way we BREATHE.
This is all so very personal.
Yet there is a common thread weaving throughout all this personal stuff.....we all want to live better in the body we live in.
My role as a teacher is to help you take YOUR yoga personally.
To share methods of HOW to practice yoga, not just WHAT poses to practice.
To provide a quality learning environment so you can build a practice that supports YOU in the body you live in NOW.
Your life, your goals, your priorities.
Because yoga is personal.
I can't run a marathon.
I can't practice on my own at home.
I don't stretch enough.
We all have a BOATLOAD of reasons both real and imagined why we can't do something.
But those real and imagined reasons become manageable when we add one word.
I can't run a marathon yet.
I can't practice yoga on my own yet.
I don't stretch enough yet.
The whole meaning of the sentence changes when you add ONE word.
When your child tells you she can't do something, do you agree with her?
Try adding the word yet next time your four year old says she can't carry her bike home.
Then add the word yet to something you decided you can't do.
This takes practice.
Lift the foot.
Lengthen the waist.
LOTS of instructions in our classes.
Refined instructions level the pelvis are directed towards experienced students.
More basic instructions bend the knees are aimed towards beginners still figuring out how to sit on the floor comfortably without wincing.
The yoga we practice is very very very hard.
Not hard like a long run is hard (though many runners can run harder when they practice yoga), or a workout class is hard (been there, done that, got the T-shirt), this yoga is hard because we are confronted with the truth of our physical habits.
We are faced with the patterns ingrained in our bodies, revealed when we train ourselves to see ourselves.
These ingrained physical patterns took years to accumulate, so it might take some effort to undo.
This undoing is serious work.
Which is why we laugh. ALOT.
We laugh because it takes way too much energy to pretend to be serious.
And since this is serious work and our aim is to build a practice that is personal and powerful, there are instructions.
If you are new to class, the instructions may sound a bit like a command.
Take the arm forward.
Yet nothing is EVER a command.
Every SINGLE instruction comes with an unspoken phrase, understood between teacher and student.
After every extend the arm and press the shins, trust that this teacher is silently adding on as best you can.
Of course new students might not be able to hear this silent as best you can, which is why all new students are required to come early to class, so I can explain it.
Reading this stuff on a "what to know before class" list tends not to work as well as a genuine one minute interaction between teacher and student.
So if you hear me say Robin anchor your right foot, trust that both Robin and I hear anchor your right foot as best you can.
And Robin, aware she is being asked to do the best she can, has the freedom to do the best she can TODAY.
Robin's decision of what instructions to take is ALWAYS up to her.
I am familiar with her practice, but her practice is HER practice.
SHE is living in HER body and I am not.
Robin might have just come from the airport and is ironing out the kinks associated with a twelve hour trip in a cramped seat. Or she just needs to quiet the chatter in her mind that has been going non-stop since she quit her job.
So Robin can freely choose whether or not to take the instruction.
I am sure I first heard about this unsaid as best you can from my favorite Texan Christina Sell. And if I did not, it is the exact type of thing she would say with humor and kindness as she somehow can manage to bring out the best in her students as they surprise themselves with the best they can.
Anne Lamott has generously shared a list of everything she knows at the age of 61.
There are fourteen items on the list and this gem seems to work with most appliances and humans.
A question I get ALOT is....
"Do I need to be advanced to come to class?"
Short answer: Yes.
But what the heck is advanced?
Long answer: You need to be an advanced student.
An advanced student brings to their yoga practice a curiosity about how to live better in the body they live in.
Sprinkle that with a sense of humor, a keen awareness that we ALL are athletes in this wild sport of life, and you are advanced.
Our aim is high. Of course it is.
We are seeking to build a yoga practice that is personal, useful and EFFECTIVE.
We come to practice to figure out ways to best navigate the body we live in NOW... to reclaim space and strength we might have forgotten was there.
Forgotten until we rolled out our yoga mat, rolled up our sleeves and got to work.
So the class requires you to be an advanced LEARNER.
So how do you get advanced at learning?
By being a student.