Sometimes all we get is a moment, a few seconds to be brave, courageous and try something different or new; be our own champions. I see it day after day with those coming into yoga with fear and expectation. Beyond that though if you look closely you can see them figuring out that life is this amazing adventure as they enjoy the journey; less about the destination.
Many may come to yoga for one reason but find a different reason to return. It isn’t something they can usually explain though; they just feel it. Interesting though as it isn’t me doing that- it is the yoga at work.
This is true just watching them come into a studio to inquire and learn more. They already changed a habit and did so much more than they may be aware of. Often I see many who feel they have to understand yoga or be masters of it. I do understand them trying to figure it out, however I offer that yoga is like dating… you have to just try it out to see what works. Nobody can tell you what works for you. Not even a teacher.
So why a classroom vs a video? Nothing beats having someone watch what you are doing. Suggestions and changes should be made to fit you in that moment. You may not be aware of items such as your breath or body position. I have someone I work with and to many they would think she can do some advanced postures. Yet to her she has an injury and feels it when I have her adjust even a bit; it doesn’t feel natural to her. She can do the most amazing postures that require a bend in the hip but she needs more back strength to help her physically and emotionally. She is on the journey of realizing we are all injured – some just more than others. So no pity – making a mental choice to change the outlook.
I remember going to my first yoga class. I used to work next door to a yoga studio. I would hear the bangs on the wall and we would laugh. We thought yoga was so peaceful so we didn’t know what was going on. So a girlfriend and I decided to sign up for this Iyengar class for 8 weeks. The teacher sat and told us about her foot injury and how years later she was healed. We then spent an entire class in one position… mountain or standing posture. As a person in her 20’s I wanted more of a physical challenge but I can appreciate what she did then; It just took time is all.
I left yoga and didn’t return for some years until I had a life changing accident. Very little was spoken about the breath or emotion, which is a shame. The teacher would simply demonstrate and adjust. I remember watching with disbelief that I could balance on one leg in Half Moon. The block I was reaching for felt so far away.
I didn’t give up though and explored with so many styles of yoga since then. I even resisted chanting till one day I let go of that fear. It was my own personal step in this direction that changed my journey. Of course I understand that not everyone is interested in being healthy or happy. Some take a different path or stay on the road they were on. They accept this and almost give up on life.
However only you can change the path you are on if you want something else; even for a few seconds. No it isn’t easy, it may hurt and not feel natural. Certainly isn’t fair but who told you it would be? It takes a lot of courage and work to do this though. There aren’t awards or prizes for doing what is right for you. Often we have to experience both the failure and the success to appreciate them.
Even in prenatal yoga I find those who are discovering this journey as they get ready for a painful situation. They come as they were told it helps but don’t know why exactly. I don’t think doctors even understand why so much; many point to what they can see but it goes deeper. I watch these Mom’s surprise themselves so much as they learn to pause more and breathe. I give them permission to do what is best for them. Learn to say “no thank you”.
I had a student who just told me a story about how she coached her friend delivering her baby last week. Her friend felt embarrassed and kept apologizing to everyone. She felt she may do the same, as she was going to deliver soon, and be around many who will be there to help her. Although she knows it is silly reaction, nothing these professionals haven’t seen before, she admitted it is hard not to feel sorry. Interesting as she said shoe on the other foot and she didn’t care at all about anything but helping her friend deliver her baby. She never once thought how gross or strange it was. It was the mental outlook of the experience.
Posture as a tool, not a reward, can teach us that the mind is that powerful. If we listen we can tell just when to do more or to do less. When to stop and when to go. Often we are like the car running on overdrive while the oil light is on. If we don’t listen to it, it will stop on us. Yet we treat our cars often with more respect than ourselves. We feel bad taking time off from work or family to go to our yoga.
I immediately took the opportunity after hearing the prenatal woman’s story to have us in the prenatal yoga class do a group posture in Tree Pose. When I talk to students after class they express a kind of pressure when first coming into the group to do a pose. They don’t mind failing or falling if they were on their own but suddenly in a group they worry about letting someone down or hurting them. It is in this experience though that we repeat it, breathe and the feelings change. The fear goes away. We aren’t letting anyone down if we step out of the posture, if we don’t go as far as someone else or go further with the help of those around us.
Just as this woman experienced with her friends labor, the fear isn’t real. When you do any posture it can teach you this if you let it. Even a person just starting can feel great finding the balance between challenge and letting go. Right in the middle – finding this place where you can enjoy the journey.