The weekly photo challenge asked folks to share their favorite place.
The word favorite has so many variables and might be tough to define without context.
Favorite place for what??
So I decided on this photo: my favorite place is anywhere I can do some yoga:
My favorite place is anywhere I can do yoga.
Not all yoga is power yoga – and it makes me sad that people overlook yoga as a life enrichment because they view it as an advanced form of exercise. We see someone doing a one-arm balance on a mountain peak or see the pretzel poses and it seems like it is an elite sport. Ugh. When I asked Nancy Kim for a photo of her for the interview I did last year, she was hesitant. Not because she does not have some strong poses to demo- but because she said that yoga is “so not about the pose.”
Nancy did not want to portray yoga in any way that was showing off; she had a respect for the way she portrayed herself as a teacher and the way yoga was depicted. Nice…..
I will rant a little today (below) -and for those who don’t feel like reading – let’s get back to my weekly photo challenge pics.
Here are two other photos I took for this challenge. I went with the one above (A) – but wanted to see what readers like best.
So do you like A, B, or C and why?
It makes me sad that people overlook yoga as a life enrichment because they view it as an advanced form of exercise.
Sometimes people are turned off to yoga because classes are SO fast (too fast even for a nice Vinyasa flow) or there is little stretching – really. Or they have an instructor who is below average at teaching and that teacher only show one side of yoga (their take on teaching it) and it chases folks away.
I tell folks they need to try at least ten different teachers before they assume yoga is not for them.
Yoga is about stretching, aligning and breathing – all humans need to do this – and I believe everyone can find a way to benefit from stretching and training breath.
I also tell people that it is OKAY if you do NOT “like” a teacher.
It is nothing personal and sometimes it comes down to energy and chemistry (and your style or needs at a given time).
And to NOT want to go to a certain class might be because the teacher is not someone you want to spend an hour with. You might not want to be under their care.
By owning this – and understanding that it is natural (different strokes for different folks baby) – you can get more from classes you go to. You can grow and enjoy yoga more when you have comfort with the instructor.
Okay – maybe for “personal mastery” you can train yourself to work with an annoying teacher – maybe…..
I recently shared with a fellow yogi about how I will never attend a certain young lady’s class again.
I did not care for her teaching style or her approach to a class. All my preference and subjective opinion. Recently, this yogi friend texted me about how she (after previously having some issues with her class – like the teacher’s lack of safety in a hot yoga room) well after inviting me to join her that day (and I had to mention, again, to her how I am sensitive to the energy and personality of the teachers I do yoga with – and noted it is my thing) well she texted me later about how she went to the class that day and how she “approached the class with kindness” and “opened my heart a little bit more”
The lady that texted me this is a very kind person and I do not think she was trying to suggest that I also need to do the same thing (I hope not – because she is not the head game – guilt trip kind of person) – but IF she was suggesting this – well my response would have been, “Um- good for you, but I do not feel called to do this.” That is not an example of self-discipline to me.
Forcing myself to practice an hour+ ‘under’ the teaching of someone who seems half-ass trained (for hot yoga) and someone who also has safety issues (not just around the heat) and also – fails to do (what I like) for class intros – like she power started with a fast Chaturanga (sun sal, push-up, plank, etc.), was inhospitable and rude! That does not sit well with me personally. And so if this friend of mine felt led to work at being under this teacher well good for her – but I shake my head at part of it….. and wondered if she was making it work because that time slot works best for her and it was literally the only class that afternoon.
However, there are times when I humbly “approach with kindness” and “open my heart a little bit more.”
Many times! I do this with family, with colleagues, neighbors, etc. I do this with people God has put in my life and you bet I humble myself and “open my heart a little bit more” to show kindness and to work at union. There are many times we do this and it makes life better and people get loved and we get loved. Part of the fabric of society.
But in my opinion, this does NOT apply to forcing myself to practice with a yoga instructor from Chicago who has a style of teaching that does not match what my body (and mind) want or need right now.
Maybe I seem all judgmental to this yogi friend because I also said that I do not prefer to go to this other guy’s classes. And she asked me again to join her and I had to remind her again. Maybe I look all bitchy and stuck. But you see, this guy teacher can be kind of rude. I love him as a person and when he left one of the studios I practiced at – I had everyone sign a canvas for him. And one of my all-time favorite classes was with him (it was this hot yoga power class back in 2016 and folks were dripping and he played songs like, “Wish you were here” and the crowded room had an energy I cannot describe). He is also extremely hospitable with late comers – he starts his classes five minutes late for that very reason. I have borrowed this from him because it works well for yoga – folks that are there can center and latecomers (reasonably a few minutes late) ease in with a feeling of welcomeness. Seriously – it is a gift of his – and he also loves a packed class – whereas other teachers sometimes have sent folks away because they were too timid or not mindful enough to ask people to move over. But this guy would kindly speak up and say something like, “Let’s move over!” “Let’s make room folks…” or “Let’s do it like they do in New York – you can have two fingers between mats and we’ll modify poses for a large group….” However, I found that going to his class was not something I enjoyed. He is a little cranky. One time he put someone on the spot because he was standing right next to them when they were going left and it was supposed to be going to the right (and teachers who do too much left right, left right should have way more grace for that cognitive demand placed on students). He also sometimes brings chanting into the class – and that is not really for me either. It is nothing personal against him, but I do not have a peace inside when I head towards his class.
And it is okay if someone does not understand it –
but if you want to judge it – then I will defend it
and just say – “different strokes for different folks.”
If YOU feel called to yield and “master” something in yourself by practicing with a teacher you formerly complained about – then go for it.
But for me – I will not compromise. I will remember that we all have different learning styles and preferences; and I will embrace this. And oh my goodness – thank God I have friggin’ options when it comes to who I practice yoga under and with. Because in so many life areas we do NOT have the luxury of choice – especially with certain family members and colleagues (we really need to try to make it work to a certain degree) – anyhow, here is what I will try to master – to NOT get annoyed when I have to explain, again, that “No, thank you, I do NOT care to practice under a certain teacher, because they are not my style.”
A few months ago I invited this older guy and his wife to our Sunday Night Yoga class and he said something about how unfit he was and how he just could never go to yoga!
Therein lies the problem. People do not realize yoga gets you fit – yoga is what leads to the stretched and lengthened and aligned body (or can).
We have it backwards when we think we have to be fit enough or flexible enough to “do” yoga.
Well some yoga does take a certain level of fitness and know-how – like this is the case with a power yoga class – but so many people are missing out on the benefits of yoga because they have not found the appropriate “basic” class.
A basic yoga class should involve some gentle Vinyasa flow segments – it also should guide breathing and provide overall body stretching to open pathways (meridians or nadis) and then offer some balance poses (standing, seated, etc.) that can be done at multi levels. Like some lunge poses have a beginner level and then 3 or 4 other ways to modify the pose and advance it. A good “basic” yoga class also offers the “crown ending” pose of Savasana—also known as Corpse pose— where one is quietly supine with a relaxed body and mind.
And seriously – Savasana has so many benefits – so teachers should not skip or rush this. At the end of class it is a little reward.
It also trains the mind – a little conditioning goes a long way – and so the more you work at fully relaxing like this – the more familiar you become doing it – the more it can branch out into everyday life. This can be especially helpful for folks who are reactive or high-stressed.
Savasana is a fully conscious pose where you experience a deep sense of stillness and it helps lead to a feeling of wellness. Research shows that a good yoga practice – which likely includes regular savasana – can do wonders at the cellular level and help the working of the Autonomic Nervous System (sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems), which control and regulate reactions and the unconscious function of organs. The parasympathetic system is all about rest, relaxation and digestion whereas the sympathetic system is where fight or flight (or freeze) reactions happen. Yoga can help people deep inside their being – mind, body and spirit.
Okay – time to wrap up. Can you tell I love yoga? 🙂
Please let me know your preference in the photos (A B or C) and if you have any yoga thoughts to share that would be great too.
If you do not want to do yoga – let’s not forget that humor is also wonderful to add more of into your life…
So I end with this comic:
(update 3/27/18 – typos corrected)