A thoughtful student sent this article to me this week and it led to some great conversation in my classes yesterday. One of my favorite facts to share with my students is that of the almost 200 yoga sutras, there is just one sentence about asana (postures). The rest are about yoga philosophy.
To me, this article really speaks to the first of the yamas, ahimsa....non-violence (or in a positive light...kindness...to self and others). When we practice asanas in class, my hope and intention as an instructor is for everyone to practice with their health, safety and well-being in mind....physical, mental, emotional. If you are in my class, you are going to hear me say at least 20 times "listening to our bodies....letting go of anything that is not serving us.....choosing rest when needed." Having said that, I totally understand In a class full of yogis, this is sometimes very hard to practice because ego and competition can get in the way.
When I get to be a student, it is my responsibility to listen to my body, hear the feedback it gives me and look for/ask for guidance when I need modifications and alternatives to suggested poses.
I remember a time when I didn't advocate for my body. I was taking a class from a popular instructor many years ago. She used to call me "furniture" because she would lay across me, push down on me, use much of her body weight to guide me deeper into poses. Admittedly I was flattered but also apprehensive when she would approach me. I am/was fairly flexible and I didn't, to my knowledge, suffer injuries at the time. Looking back though, those were some very intense "adjustments" that my body probably didn't need. I could already put my belly on my thighs in seated forward fold (Paschimottanasana)....did I really need her to lay across my back and push me further? No. No I didn't.
I would love to hear your thoughts if you have a few minutes to read the article. Definitely thought-provoking.
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