Most of the movement I do in life is about improving or maximizing something — function, capacity, strength, or performance.
But when I’m practicing yoga, I’m not trying to achieve anything. I’m listening. I’m learning. I’m meeting myself where I am, as I am, and finding a way to befriend what I find.
The goal is to learn to see myself clearly, as a neutral observer, without the emotional charge, without needing to understand it or make it “better” in some way.
My practice is not defined by what I do or don’t do on my mat. It’s not defined by whether I pop into an arm balance, do the hardest version offered, or how deep I go. You may see my body but, from the outside, you can’t the see the yoga I’m practicing.
This month, the focus of my classes is part of what sets my yoga practice apart from the other movement I do in life and sport — one of the philosophical foundations of this practice, the Yamas.
To me, practicing the Yamas on my mat is really about using the different poses to move through different sensations and experiences so I can notice, unlearn, and systematically free myself from the burden of certain things that stand in my way of being comfortable being myself.
As I step back to watch myself with curiosity, I can see the harm I inflict on myself through my negative thoughts and beliefs about myself, the lies I let myself believe to stay comfortable, how I often take too much responsibility for how others feel and not enough for how I feel, the way I routinely pour too much of myself into things that don’t matter to me leaving me drained and depleted, and how I cling tightly to the experiences I enjoy while resisting hard the things I don’t.
And what I see, I can change. What I acknowledge, I can take responsibility for.
It’s uncomfortable but slowly, pose by pose, breath by breath, day by day, I’m chiseling away at the things inside that cloud my vision and keep me from seeing who I really am.
Every practice gets me a little closer to me.
Interested in learning more about the philosophy? Join us this month for class. Link in bio.