Every morning I wake up feeling blessed that I have had the opportunity to learn about the wisdom of Yoga, it’s practices, rituals, and philosophies and ultimately that I am able to share it with others. There are many times while teaching, that I feel myself drawn in by this tunnel of energy, so to speak, feeling connected to all the teachers I have learned from, the teachers I will one day learn more from, and the wisdom of yoga itself.
I have thought a lot regarding what I want to address in my first blog for our studio. Asking myself questions along the way.
What is important to me as a teacher?
What might be important for those who come to the yoga mat?
Or even, What might students not recognize when they do?
One word continued to come to my head- Ahimsa- a term meaning 'not to injure' and also ’compassion’. The Sanskrit root hiṃs – means to strike; hiṃsā is injury or harm. Ahimsa (a-hiṃsā) is the opposite of this, it means to cause no injury, do no harm. Ahimsa is also referred to as nonviolence, and it applies to all living beings.
When you step on the mat, try to forget about the competition with yourself or comparison to others, a concept difficult in all areas of life, and especially on the mat. We come to the mat to accept all our limitations and to connect with love towards ourselves.
What is the biggest joy in life? To me it can be summed easily into a one word answer, acceptance. Acceptance is the first step towards experiencing joy in our lives. I won’t go into deeper philosophical explanation here, I’ll keep my focus “on the mat”. It is important to accept your body’s limitations, to be safe on the mat, and this is the first step towards practicing Ahimsa. It is the first step towards self-love, when you leave competition and comparison to others outside the classroom, you step on the mat and make this practice to yours, a practice where you are aware of the present moment, aware of how your body feels, and where it sets limits.
SO... as a student you have to remember that ultimately you are responsible for preventing injury. You have to be willing to listen to your body and know when to modify if necessary. You also need to be able to recognize when or if you are pushing too far. (Another tough challenge, I know.)
The obvious answer is if you’re feeling pain, you’re pushing too far. Some poses can be challenging and require effort, but you shouldn’t be in pain. I can not express enough how important it is to practice honestly, because it’s easy to fool yourself and ignore those signals. The mind plays tricks on you. If you catch yourself saying” it’s not too bad” or “I am sure it’s nothing” or “it will be over soon”- this probably means it hurts and you are not comfortable in a pose. This is when you stop and modify a pose or ask a teacher for advice.
When you are on your mat stop watching what others do and don’t try to keep up with others, you’ll lose your own body awareness and the signals it sends you.
Every time I step on my mat I remind myself that I am here to practice for myself, my body and mind’slong-term healing and well-being. I am here to love myself and work with my body. I am here on the mat to listen. To listen to my own breath, my body’s signals, my heart’s desires.
When you come to practice let yourself experience the beauty of “awareness” and “ahimsa”. Once you learn how to be aware of all that is happening during a yoga practice… I can promise that it will expand into your daily life. This is where the wisdom of yoga opens to me and to you.