My focus for the past week’s classes has been something I usually incorporate into my classes, but I felt it was so relevant to the process of examining how we live our lives that I decided to not only make it the focus, but to also write about it. My work in waking people up to their true selves and their true missions in this life basically always comes back to what I’ve been discussing with students this past week, so please feel free to consider this to be a fundamental truth, one from which all other aspects of one’s life stems.
Regardless of whether your yoga practice consists of standing up in the morning and stretching after a long night’s sleep, or if you take a 90-minute active group class somewhere, then you might have already clued in to the fact that everything that you do relating to the asanas directly relates to your approach to what you do in all other aspects of your lives. I have always encouraged and instructed students to bring their home practice to a group environment, to take the same liberties they would afford themselves when practicing alone, confident in the knowledge that their practice should fit their bodies, and not the inverse…I remind everyone that they’re not doing it to impress me, nor to impress the people around them. I often remind everyone that what the person is doing directly next to them in class has absolutely no bearing on their own practice, that the essence of Yoga is about looking inwards, and forgetting what their senses are interpreting from external sources. Most importantly, I encourage students to keep moving, even micro-movements in static poses, all in the hope that they’ll wriggle around and find an even more comfortable and stable posture than they’ve been used to, regardless of how long they’ve been practicing and how well they think they know their bodies, the practice, etc… The reasons for my approach are manifold: I am a firm believer that I know nothing. That we know nothing. That we go through our lives with stories about each other, about the world we live in, but mainly about ourselves. We tell ourselves we are this way, we like these things, we see ourselves here, there or elsewhere in the future, that we believe in whatever we think we believe in…however…when given the chance to wriggle around and test the boundaries of who we think we are and what we think we’re capable of, all of a sudden we realize that we are more capable, more aware, more awake, more, more, more than we knew. We are more than we think we are, and in the immortal words of Jean Klein, we need to remain “Open to the openness.” We don’t know everything about anything, and so the more we realize that, the more hesitant we are in defining ourselves, each other, and the world around us because we understand that everything is in a state of transformation, of flux, and we become more of who we are with every passing second. The other reason for my approach is to give people the perspective necessary to really see themselves and the way they live their lives…to examine how we make decisions, and whether those decisions are bringing us closer to where and who we want to be, or if the roots of those choices we have made (and continue to make) stem from any other motivation.
If a student feels empowered enough in my class to take an extra breath when he or she needs it, or if a student feels comfortable enough to wriggle around and make self-adjustments in the understanding that they will find a better practice waiting on the other side of those movements, then the same student will also feel empowered enough to draw outside of the lines in their own lives…to work within whatever parameters exist in whatever realm they find themselves in, i.e. their jobs, relationships, etc…, but to also feel confident that by incorporating their own inquisitiveness and personalities, they will find an even more gratifying space of truth in whatever they’re doing. On the other end of the spectrum, if a student feels paralyzed by fear in their practice, and they take a pose and hold it for dear life while shaking and suffering, counting the breaths until they can come out of it, then that tells them how they deal with challenge, trauma, and essentially any other facets of daily life that don’t immediately sit comfortably with them. The yoga practice tells us everything we need to know, we just need to understand that and be open to the openness of the worlds within and all around us. If a student finds themselves reluctant to explore their options with in the framework of a class, they’ll be reluctant to explore in all other areas of their lives. I’ve said before that if we want to change the way we live, we have to change the way we think, so basically yoga is a system of tools that encourages us to look at our thought processes and challenge them when appropriate…all to give us what we need to make better lives for ourselves. That’s it. That’s why I teach. It’s why I practice. It’s how I live.
So I ask you: what are your patterns? How do you live? Have you ever asked yourself where your motivation comes from when making decisions that will affect your happiness? If not, start now. You’ve always had everything you needed, you just needed to know what questions to ask. So ask them. This is your time, and it’s why you’re here…