|Image via Flickr user Stephanie Young Merzel|
Yoga teachers devote a lot of class time to sharing how NOT to do a particular pose for good reasons: Sloppy alignment, over effort, and big ambitions can create unwelcome tension and even injuries over time.
That said, if I read one more article about how almost everyone does _______ Pose incorrectly, I might scream. Can it be helpful to pick apart all the ways we do yoga wrong? Sure. Let's take a break from that and focus on all the things yoga students actually do RIGHT for a change, OK?
This post is for every student who's ever been discouraged when, no matter how closely you listen to your teachers' instructions, you just can't figure out why she runs over to you and pokes your ribs EVERY effing time you attempt Downward-Facing Dog. I've been there. Please know that one day it will all click and you will totally understand what your teacher means when she tells you to "knit your ribs" in.
Until then, though, take heart in all the many things you're doing absolutely perfectly!
You unroll your mat over and over again. Sometimes it's easy. Sometimes it feels like you've run a marathon by the time you've worked hard all day, rushed through traffic, dropped the baby off with the sitter, and finally FINALLY found somewhere to park so you could get a glorious hour on your mat.
You show up with a smile on your face even though someone just flipped you off in the parking lot.
You do your best to listen to both your teacher's convoluted instructions and your body's own wisdom and intuition--which is a lot harder than it sounds.
When you fall out of a pose, you laugh at yourself and try again.
When your neighbor on the mat next to you falls out of a pose, you chuckle to yourself and try not to embarrass her in front of the whole class.
When you're tired, you rest.
When you're energized, you challenge yourself.
When you're injured, you modify.
You focus on your breath moving in and out.
You soften where you're naturally hard. You firm where you're naturally soft. You bring your body and mind closer to balance every time you practice in more ways than you can probably even identify.
You make changes little by little, bit by bit. You know that the the smallest changes are worth so much more than the biggest, grandest ideas that you don't follow through on.
You make yourself, your health, your well-being a priority.
You recognize that your teacher has bad days--you smile at her and you come back the next week anyway.
You let the lessons you learn on your yoga mat spill over into all the other areas of your life: you stand up straighter, breathe deeper, leave a smaller footprint, and treat others with more kindness and compassion.
You are open to the unlimited possibilities this practice has to offer you--both physical, mental, and emotional.
You rock! Never forget that!