When I first started to practice yoga, like most people, I began with an obsession with doing the poses the “right way” because I didn’t want to be wrong, or get hurt, or look silly in front of everyone else in the class.
I call this phase of my life “Making Shapes” and it was filled with questions like “am I doing this right?”, “where should my hand be?”, and “is that what I look like when I do that pose?” All questions I was looking outside myself to answer.
It took me awhile to figure out that the “right” answer for me was and always has been up to me to look inside to find.
Eventually, I realized that the goal isn’t to make the shape of me match the shape of someone else but rather to simply get quiet and learn to trust that the alignment I’m looking for can’t be found through thinking — it has to be felt.
Humans are incredibly complex beings. Because of that, there is no universal “right way”. The “right answer” will always be what feels right for you. But in the beginning that’s a difficult concept to grasp because many of us don’t know how we feel — we walk around largely disconnected from what we’re feeling.
We’ve repressed our feelings — often for good reason since feelings can be painful and we’re hardwired to avoid pain. So instead, we favor thinking because if we don’t like what’s happening we can simply make up a narrative about it that makes us feel better … at least for now. We trust what we think even when those thoughts are proven wrong and don’t serve us. And yet we rarely trust how we feel.
This is one of the reasons that I don’t cue much positional alignment in my yoga classes, but rather focus on cueing my students to align themselves to a specific feeling — helping them hone and refine their own ability to feel their way into a more desirable experience. In doing so, the practice becomes more inclusive, accessible, and IMO confers a far more powerful skill than simply copying shapes.
In the end, my goal is to help you re-establish your connection and trust with your own powerful, instinctual internal guidance system.
To tap in to you own onboard system, check out Episode 16 of my Grit + grace podcast.
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