Just like it’s easy to get caught up in the commercialism of the holiday season, the same goes for the practice of yoga. I mean, how can you not? The flashy poses all over Instagram, alignment OCD, and pressure in yoga classes to perform or keep up. Trust me, I got caught up in all that too, until I looked deeper into the philosophy of the practice.
As a teacher, it is especially hard to strike a balance between offering something fun and interesting yet teaching valuable tools that can be used in everyday life. Before I teach a class, I ask myself, “What do you want your students to learn?” It is my way of checking in to make sure that I actually teach my students yoga, not just movement or asana.
I recently took a couple of yoga classes at studios I don’t normally practice at. One class was at a studio in Texas when visiting family for Thanksgiving and another at a studio in Los Angeles. Both classes where your typical Vinyasa flow style: asana with a heavy emphasis on alignment and breath. However, I walked away feeling as though there was a missed opportunity. There was absolutely no mention of any yoga philosophy or principals of the practice. Sure, I stretched and moved my body, but was that yoga?
It is certainly possible to do yoga without asana and my experience held testament that asana can be done without practicing yoga. So, how can we use asana effectively to act as a tool for the practice of yoga instead of allowing it to override the point of the entire practice? Perhaps, we can consider any form of smart and efficient movement as asana and then apply that to the practice of yoga. Since yoga means union, we can use asana as a means to find union with what is and learn from those present moment experiences to make choices without attaching to expectations, past experiences, or particular results.
So, instead of stressing about buying the perfect gift or nailing some fancy asana, perhaps we stop and ask, “What is the point?” Because sometimes all we need is to remind ourselves of the true nature of their origin to ground us in its purpose.
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.