In all the years I have been practicing yoga, I have encountered numerous teachers who understand the theories of asana. They have no problem explaining the most technical points of a pose. A few gifted teachers take it a step further. They understand the most technical points of the pose, but they understand that without the breath, an open curious mind, and a willingness to focus intently without judgement, the practice is nothing more than exercise. They give you the time and space to practice. They do not tell you how to feel. They don’t tell you how to feel because that is your experience. They simply teach the pose, and give you space to breath and have an experience. Then you choose to do a pose like exercise, or you choose to find the beauty and poetry of the pose, and move from the outer to the inner, it is ultimately your decision. Eventually you must climb above the physical struggle and face the ego and its struggle to accept at first the asana, and eventually the life, your life. Your limits, your weaknesses, your strengths and gifts, the dark and the light. There is a delicate balance between, your mat, your world, and yourself. If your practice does not serve you, and enhance your life, then you should make changes, it is pretty simple. Yoga can heal you, can harm you, can change you for better or worse, but it can only do these things with your approval.
The view from my mat today in Malibu. Outdoors in the rain, a wonderful, rare change. Embrace it. Janu Sirsasana prep. Extend the front leg to the rain, open the soul of the foot from inner to outer, embracing the change, turn the torso towards the straight leg and root the right sit bone into the dry mat.
This picture has all the elements of sitting in Sukhasana. The water flowing into the earth rooting and grounding the mind. The strength of the rising sandstone walls, like a long spine extending beyond the physical, into the Divine, the open blue sky. Earthy, yet heavenly. Grounded into Mother Earth, rising into Father Sky. The breath flowing with ease like the waterfall.
Tonight, I entered the class I was about to teach 5 or so minutes early. I fix the temperature, and adjust the lights. Then I interact with some of the people that are there early. I saw a new person sitting, so I walked over to this person, and introduced myself, and after the hi, how are you, name thing, I asked if they had any injuries or health issues I should know about. This person was between 25 and 32 years old I am guessing. Looked in fine health. After a moment, they say in a low voice, “I am fighting cancer, but my doctor knows I am here and says it is alright, I just wanted to let you know I may have to take a break or two”. I made light of it, and said, take all the breaks you want, so glad you are taking the time to take care of yourself. If I can help in anyway, simply ask. During class I watched over this person, making sure all was fine. The class lesson was so clear. It was from this individual to me. No matter what battles you are faced with, all you can do is your best. That is it. Here is this young, wonderful person, seemingly happy and healthy, fighting for a life. Fighting for more time, at an age when most people think they are invincible, this person is moving from day to day. There is no real point to this post except to say, be happy for what you have, health wise, and be careful wondering why someone may not be as happy and jovial as you, maybe, just maybe, they are fighting depression, cancer, crohn’s, or any other silent battle that is unseen. I am humbled by students on a daily basis.