Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Come as you are, as you were...

Sometimes, no matter how well thought out, no matter how awesome your routine, you are going to have to make adjustments.  I have a "go to" routine that I use when I'm called on to sub for a beginning yoga class, but I always make sure that I have some alternate poses or sequences in mind because you never know what's going to be waiting for you on the mat.

The past few classes I've taught have been overwhelmingly yogic in nature, and there is a certain expectation of what comes from a yoga class (beginning, intermediate OR advanced). Here are the things I hear most often from students:
  • [the student] has not done yoga before
  • [the student] hasn't done yoga in a while
  • [the student] tried to do yoga, but [they] are not very flexible
  • [the student] isn't very spiritual
  • [the student] IS very spiritual and doesn't want any of that weird stuff
  • [the student] doesn't have all the "required" equipment
And i'm sure that those are all valid concerns they have for themselves, but really, most of those aren't concerns that I have for them. 

It's ok if you haven't done yoga before, or not in a while. Thanks for letting me know so I can make sure to explain the poses in a greater detail. I use the Americanized or translated names for the poses to make sure we're all on the same page, but I understand if you are intimidated by the Sanskrit. 

Also, I understand it can be annoying if you want to do a certain pose and your body doesn't seem to want to bend that way, but it doesn't mean that 1) you're not flexible enough or 2) you will EVER be flexible enough--because sometimes it's not about your flexibility.

Sometimes, it's about how your body is made--down to the bones. If you are a short-waisted individual, you are going to find it very hard to do poses that involve rounding the back. It's not your fault, and no amount of stretching, or losing weight is likely to get you where you think you need to be. Like the Tin Man, you are just not designed to bend in that way.

Similarly, people often think that they need special equipment (mat, blanket, towel, blocks, straps, etc.) to perform a routine. Props and whatnot are nice, but many people find that they do not need the equipment. When you break it down to its component parts, you do not need to have all those things to do a simple routine. They're nice to have, and sometimes helpful, but it's not a situation where if you don't have the right equipment you cannot participate. Think of it more like flag football than pro football. 

Finally, concerning the spiritual nature of yoga... yoga is spiritual if you are. Personally, I don't teach the mantras to chant, or the meanings behind the various hand mudras. But that doesn't mean I don't view yoga as a spiritual practice for myself. Rather, I don't want to impose my beliefs on my students, so I guide them in general relaxation techniques instead. What you focus on when you go to your happy place is entirely your business.

When you come to my class, I expect that you come as you are—exactly as you are that day. Everyone has off days when they're not feeling particularly flexible or whatnot. That's ok. It's more important that respect what your body is capable of right at that very minute. There are days when my balance is awful, and I can't seem to reach my toes no matter what, but I still get on the mat.

That's why it's called a "practice."

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