On my way home from yoga training, I started thinking more about the class I am in the midst of preparing to teach. I have three weeks. I wondered if I should allow myself to start panicking? It would not be very yogi of me to panic. Or would it be completely yogi of me to panic?
According to the teachings from today’s anatomy training, the greatest purpose of yoga is to wake up to the essential nature of you.
Is my essential nature to freak out about things? Or is this more of a learned habit? My vote is for the latter, though learning about anatomy could certainly send me into a spiral of doubt and concern for the health and well-being of my own body and those of the people I may someday hope to teach.
So I shifted my perspective and thought about preparing and teaching the class as an opportunity to learn and be supported by my teachers and the people who attend the class.
I could think about the money I have spent on yoga and worry about having spent so much. Or I could think about it as the ultimate gift to myself. What better gift than one that gives me complete permission to delve through the many layers of external expectations and teachings to get to the heart of who I am and what I desire for a yogic existence.
Every Saturday morning, we travel together—my fellow yoginis and me—to Skull Valley to learn about Ayurvedic yoga.
Ayurvedic yoga is the practice of bringing balance to our shifting pranic selves.
This morning, our teacher suggested that the healthiest way of being a yogi is one where we are honest about who we are and where we are in our practice. There is no need to rush to the finish line, and skipping steps will catch up with us eventually and influence the kind of karma we spread around.
So it’s ok to be attached to things? One of us asked.
Of course it is, she said reassuringly.
I thought about this. I remembered how each time I put a bunch of things to give away into a bag, there seems to always be one or two items that I take out of the bag just before giving it away. I don’t know why. It just brings me some comfort to know those items will not be lost to me forever.
I may give them away the next time, or I might not.
Either way, it’s ok.
I am ok.
I don’t need to be anything that I am not. I only need to be honest first and foremost to myself and then, as I am ready, to the rest of the world.
I thought about all of this and reflected on the kinds of asanas I had been envisioning teaching in order to lengthen the spine and open the heart. I tried to remember what I hoped to accomplish in terms of non-attachment through these poses.
And an epiphany-like thought came to me. Without a firm foundation, all of that lengthening can lifting could be detrimental. I don’t want my students to float up and away.
And how was I to know where each student was in their own process of letting go and detaching from whatever they were holding on to so tightly?
It could be an unhealthy relationship or a sweater they with which they were not yet ready to part.
Having no way to really interview each person who was to walk through the door or to send out a pre-survey questionnaire, I realized that I needed to think about the most important first step to letting go.
For me, it has been becoming aware of the desire to move through this process and then creating a solid foundation of strength and faith in myself that I really can let go. I needed to be given permission and to give myself permission to go to that place of letting go of one aspect of myself in roder to discover and create another aspect.
So, just as we empty our diaphragm to make room for new breath to come in, I think it is important to learn to be solid in ourselves before expanding outward.
How does this translate to a yoga class? I harken back to an earlier post that I wrote after my first weekend of training: Tadasana, foundation, foundation, foundation.
It begins with being able to stand on my two feet with confidence and strength. From there, I can invite poses that build from a solid center and core. Tree pose. Chair. Warrior 1 and 2.
Without a solid foundation for these poses, it is easy to lose your balance.
Should some people in the class be reticent to expand outward too much from their center, they can create a solid foundation in these poses. Others who may be further along their own path of non-attachment can modify the poses to branch out with arms, legs, spine, head, or heart.
There is no race. We are each on our own path, however parallel it may seem to another person’s.
And what I learned today is that We use yoga to figure out what is actually going on, not just the stories we create from the misinformation and misinterpretation our senses and emotion bring in.
Repetition equals learning
The more you repeat something, the better you get at it
Habit extends to movement, breathe, alignment
The more I practice standing on my own two feet, the better I get at it.
The more I practice letting go and detaching from judgment, material possessions, plans, and expectations, the more readily I can practice patience and acceptance.
For my class design, I might have an idea of what I would like to create for a person in attendance. However, I also need to accept that people will respond through the filter of their own past experiences and what they have been grappling with and may bring to their mat.
What I would like to do is to help people “put everything else on the shelf,” as my teacher suggests to us at the beginning of our weekends together. This does not mean to forget everything in your life that may be troubling you. It simply means to de-clutter your mind so you can be present and focused.
This afternoon, our teach told us, The purpose of yoga is to wake up; to wake up to the essential nature of you.
And she extended an invitation that I now extend to you: Find your yoga.