Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Excerpt from Jiva Wellness's Weekly Newsletter....

As some of you know, I teach in the wellness program at Yahoo Hot Jobs, which is brought to them by Jiva Wellness. Tiffany and Mark of Jiva asked me to write something to inspire the yogis and yoginis of Yahoo Hot Jobs, for inclusion in their weekly wellness letter. I figured I would reprint it here:

By now you may have already joined in on one of Jiva's yoga classes. If so, I hope to see you again this Tuesday! If not, I hope to meet you soon. In either case, I wanted to address a question that comes up often after class: "So....how can I get good at yoga?"

The answer is really quite simple: If you want to get "good" at yoga, you have to be willing and able to be "bad" at yoga. Which is to say...that you have to let go of results altogether and simply practice. Yoga is a practice, not a performance. Of course it always feels great to feel competent at whatever it is you are doing. And in yoga, we often connect "feeling competent" with mastering particular poses. But there are so many other ways to be "competent" at yoga. To name a few:

1. Just showing up!

Getting to the mat is the hardest challenge of yoga, and anyone who practices yoga on a regular basis will tell you that. No matter how good we feel at the end of a yoga practice, the next time we consider getting back to the mat, there is resistence. We begin an internal debate. Should I? Maybe not? But there is only one right answer: Get to the mat and practice. It doesn't have to be your best practice ever. You don't have to acheive anything in particular, from a physical standpoint. You just have to overcome the resistence. THAT is practicing yoga.

2. Staying in the "here and now".

A HUGE challenge to practicing yoga is the tendency of the mind to wander outside the four corners of your mat. But once you start looking at your neigbors, comparing your practice to theirs, once you start thinking about what's on your "to-do" list for afer work, once you start thinking about the email you need to send to the boyfriend/girlfriend who just broke up with you...you've lost the "here and now". And when you break out of the "hear and now", you start to undermine your own yoga practice. You experience feelings like boredom, anxiety, envy...even anger. You feel the urge to take a bathroom break, to swig water, to lie down. But yoga tells us that all of that is merely the restless mind talking, and there's something you can do about it: You acknowledge that your mind has wandered, and without judgement, you simply let it go and return to the here and now.

3. Extending compassion to ourselves.

All of us (and that includes me) will sometimes speak to ourselves in a sharp tone, with words that we wouldn't use with our worst enemies. Particularly in a setting where you are asking your body to do things it does not do on a regular basis (i.e., yoga poses), we all have a tendency to say mean things to ourselves about ourselves. "Man, do I suck at backbends" or "Damnit, why can't I reach my hand to the floor in this pose!?"

Would we talk to our friends like that? Didn't think so. One way that we can demonstrate our competence in yoga is by learning to extend the same friendliness to ourselves that we would extend to our friends.

So, be "bad" at a pose every day! Challenge yourself to be really "bad", and then extend that friendliness, that compassion, to yourself, for simply being there on the mat, for simply trying something that is at the edge of your ability. Give yourself props for simply learning to accept who you are, where you are, what you are doing in this particular "here and now".

And when all else fails, consider this: as long as you keep practicing yoga, one thing is for certain, and that is that you will not get any worse! Or, as the guru of gurus, Sri K Pattabhi Jois likes to say, "Practice, and all is coming....."




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Copyright 2005-2007 Lauren Cahn, all rights reserved. Photos appearing on this blog may be subject to third party copyright ownership. You are free to link to this blog and portions hereof, but the use of any direct content requires the prior written consent of the author.

About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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