After practicing yoga religiously at a local yoga studio for only 6 months, I was approached by my teacher after class. This beautiful tall and thin Caucasian lady who I would take class from often said, “You have a beautiful practice, have you thought about doing teacher training?” I am sure that her compliment was well-intentioned and sincere at the time, but now I realize that it reinforced my harmful habits of basing contentment and happiness off approval and perfection. This was a pattern that repeated itself over and over again in many different forms.
So, for years I was practicing and teaching the poses from this place. I trusted other peoples’ knowledge and capabilities over my own, so instead of questioning the method as to why things are taught or practiced in a certain way, I began to question myself. Instead of critically thinking of how to put a class together, I would pull new material from other classes. Yet, for years I felt as though I was just replicating what was taught by my peers, teachers, and teacher’s teachers. I strived to reinvent the wheel by making my classes more-so yoga choreography with intricate transitions and funky variations on poses, but still something was missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, until I began searching for answers and trusting my instincts. I later found, that the yoga community at large, including myself, taught the same. Think of your traditional “All Levels” Vinyasa Flow class; fast-paced flow geared towards students who are either athletic, hyper-mobile, coordinated, or all of the above.
That’s when I realized; I was teaching form over function. Even if I would tell my students to find the postures in their body, I would reinforce the complete opposite. I congratulated my students for looking aesthetically pretty, physically adjusted my students as if to say they weren’t doing it “right,” and demoed postures as if to say that my way of doing it was what students had to strive for. Without realizing it, I was encouraging competition, approval, perfection, inclusivity, self-judgment, and attachment; all that yoga is not. Instead, yoga is about accepting what is and learning from the present moment to make choices without attaching yourself to expectations or particular outcomes. So, with that is mind, who cares what it looks like. What we should really be concerned about is using asana as a means to be in the body and actively participate in the current experience that is in front of us.
It may have taken me years to come back to the true nature of yoga, but that is the work. So I will continue to show up and be with what is right in front of me and what happens next is what happens next.
Hi, I'm Lauren and I am here to support people to find freedom in being authentic and the power to carry that out in their lives and community. Writing is one way I like to explore that for myself. Here is my archive of reflections.