Tonight’s thoughts were inspired by fellow yoga instructor (as well as talented writer/artist/amazing person extraordinaire), Deborah Bluestein. After class one day, she and another instructor and I were discussing postures. Being the astute observer that she is, Deborah commented on how it was frustrating as a teacher when students would choose (unknowingly or not) to POSE in a posture instead of actually being IN a posture.
Same word, completely different meaning. I knew exactly what she meant. It is something we do as practitioners especially when learning a new posture, especially if we are visual learners. We watch someone do the posture, then attempt to get our bodies to look the same. When it resembles something close enough we hang out there being so proud and thinking we have accomplished the posture.
People who never get past this step are typically the ones that say, “yoga is too easy for me. I’m bored.”
The real trick is, we must learn the technique of the posture, and then, using this technique, attempt to gain the benefit of the posture using our own bodies and minds within the guidelines of the technique. In the yoga I teach, we change the body to fit the posture, as opposed to changing the posture to fit the body. This way, you may only be doing 1% of the posture, but you still get 100% of the benefit. Since the yoga is a lifetime practice, over time the technique changes, and improves, your body and mind. It’s a wonderful cycle. As the posture improves, you improve, as you improve, the posture improves.
But, this is much harder and more ego-crushing than the aforementioned “posing” technique.
We want to be good at things. No one wants to feel like they are doing a bad job at anything. One of the hardest things as a human being is to look at the person next to you in a yoga class and feel like they are doing the posture “better” than you.
The yoga is about YOU. YOUR body in the postures. YOUR mind struggling through it. YOUR internal organs gaining benefit. YOUR injuries being healed. YOUR world very often being turned upside-down by the discoveries you make on your mat.
You make a choice when you get into a yoga posture. You can ignore the technique and try to make it look pretty, or you can be willing to be humbled by the reality of your strength and your flexibility and your balance.
Be willing to be your authentic self, whatever that means, on any given day. Sometimes the results will (happily!) surprise you.