Written by Jessica
I very much remember my early years of yoga. I can still feel the excitement, the nervousness, and the need to "get it right"... to be "good" at yoga. I can remember looking around the room, trying to see what the pose was supposed to look like. "Where am I supposed to feel this?" "Is my leg as high as hers?" "Why doesn't my Pigeon look like that?" I can still feel the frustration of falling out of a balance, or of being unable to hold an inversion. I came out of those classes happy and sweaty, endorphins flowing, but full of judgment, stories, aches and back pains, with more expectations of myself than when I entered class.
As my practice progressed, and deepened, I learned how to trust myself. And while it's not easy, taking yourself out of a space of judgment and into the seat of the observer as you practice, allows you to see and feel how capable your body is. You find the spaces in your body where hidden emotions lay and find the patterns of your mind. Your practice becomes a space of reverence and learning, no longer a battleground. You can smile and laugh when you fall, and you can breathe and experience sensations in the body, thankful for the ability to feel them. You begin to move in a way that not only feels good, but honours and explores the subtleties of the body you've been given.
What would your practice look like if you got rid of the "shoulds", and the stories you place on yourself? What if you approached each pose, not trying to make a certain shape, or somehow fighting against your body, but instead, took the opportunity to observe what the pose's effect was on your breath? Or how the pose feels in your body, both physically and energetically?
We so often get lost in the end-goal, pushing our heads painfully to our knees, or forcing ourselves into backbends that are far too deep for our bodies. When we fight with our bodies to make our practice look a certain way, we miss the lessons along the way. We miss the emotions yearning to be felt. We miss the energies trying to move through us. We miss how good the body can feel along the way. We simply miss the point.
I love the opportunity to teach beginners. This is why I especially love the "Find Your Flow" workshop at Navina. Without mirrors or distractions, we learn how to safely align the body, while honouring its unique bone structure and current capabilities. We learn how to move in an intuitive way, while creating an injury-preventative, lifelong practice. Taking the time to step back and learn your foundations is important, no matter where you are at in your practice. Learning to engage your legs and the entire shoulder girdle during Chattarunga will take the pressure off of your pectorals and core, and save your rotator cuff, years down the road. It also allows you to find that sense of ease and strength, and to experience the sensation of floating through your flow. When you have a solid foundation to build on, your confidence and trust in yourself can flourish. Your practice can deepen beyond the physical, beyond your mat. And you can truly find your flow.