When a student asked one of my teachers if he thought her yoga practice was improving, he replied, “Ask your loved ones.” The true signs of an advancing yogi are not just a stronger and more supple body. Yoga practiced regularly and properly should create a calmer, more caring, centered, tolerant, patient, and loving individual, and who would know better if you are improving in these areas than your loved ones?
It is easy to get caught up with solely the physical aspects of our practice, but then we risk forgetting the deeper gifts that yoga has to offer. We are more than just a collection of bones and muscles. A bendy back, a perfectly executed arm balance, and a flat stomach may be visually appealing but yoga is not a performance nor is it a “spectator sport.” It doesn’t matter how your practice looks; it matters how it feels. How can you move in a way that allows the most possible freedom and harmony within your whole being?
As a yoga teacher, I think of the words and cues I say as “suggestions,” not as the absolute and only way. When it comes down to it, I can’t feel what you feel and I can’t know your inner experience in each pose. That is why my students will often hear me say, “Listen inside. There is more than one right answer.”
Yoga teaches us to get out of the habit of waiting for someone else to tell us what to do and how to do it. Our practice teaches us to turn inward and trust our inner voice. Yoga is an internal experience, a process of peeling back the layers of ego to uncover our True Selves.
Next time you find yourself in a yoga class comparing your poses and your body to the other people in the room, stop. Close your eyes. Focus inside. Feel your breath moving you. How does it feel to be alive in this body today? Be with whatever the experience is for you right now. Let your body be breathed, be moved, intuitively… There is more than one right answer.
“People follow different paths, straight or crooked, according to their temperament, depending on which they consider best, or more appropriate – and all reach You, just as all rivers enter the ocean.” ~ The Upanishads
Playlist #2: Mellow Mix
Gymnopedies - Claude Debussy
Bach Cello Concerto - Yo-Yo Ma
Together - Wade Imre Morisette
Sunrise - Norah Jones
One Flight Down - Norah Jones
In My Place - Coldplay
In the Lord’s Arms - Ben Harper
Free Fallin’ (Live) - John Mayer
Wild Horses - Rolling Stones
Toes - Norah Jones
Stop This Train - John Mayer
Gravity - John Mayer
Come Away With Me - Norah Jones
Beloved One - Ben Harper
Imagine - John Lennon
Sri Ram Jai Ram - Krishna Das
Such Great Heights - Iron & Wine