In some popular styles of Yoga, students are encouraged to aspire to an ‘optimal alignment.’ While safe alignment is very important, I’ve seen much forcing in postures, the ‘ideal’ of a posture pushed like a cookie-cutter onto an unready body.
These kind of classes foster competitiveness, and echo much of our modern culture, which values appearence over substance.
Look where that focus has brought our society.
I think these lineages of Yoga mean well, but sometimes the language used can project that there’s something wrong with where we are currently at. You are where you are, and it’s a perfect place to start a Yoga practice.
Let your practice validate you on the way to transforming you.
Raise your right hand, make the peace sign, and take the Yogacratic oath…
Say: “I’ll do no harm.”
In our classes together, we adapt the postures to the current state of our bodies. Not an impose, but a Yoga pose, now helpful in the context of our lives. We foster a safe place where there’s nothing to prove, and we support each others unfolding.
In practice, we are not looking for paper mache’ shells of experience, but true postures, fully embodied, with substance and purpose.
Postures from the bones-out. Yes, Yoga is an inside job.
The true ‘optimal alignment’ is where the posture is safe, and of benefit to your whole being. Steady, with even breath, a meditative quality in your mind, and a clear sense of purpose. This place can be elusive. We get there by feel, and this takes practice.
Practiced this way, your favorite Yoga posture can be the one you are currently in. There’s just no place you’d rather be. From these peaceful places we can contemplate higher thoughts, like offering peace and compassion to all beings.
Our grandfather of Yoga, Sri Patanjalii suggested our postures be steady, and sweet, and on that note, I’ll close with some sweet postures:
Yoga posture cookie cutters are available from The Kitchen Yogi, others from here. and compassionate recipes here. But remember, make enough to share, and don’t be the cookie!
Have you found yourself in a competitive class? Did you win? how did you feel after?
Om Shanti, I’ll see you in class. -j
8 thoughts on “Don’t be the cookie”
we pause a lot to reduce anxiety about a pose.. these guys love it and they are progressing really quick.. -G
I enjoyed your email. I’ve found that to be true both as a student & teacher.
Thank you so much for this last blog post.
I’ve been struggling with this very thing after visiting a certain
“power yoga” studio in Concord where all the women are thin, uber fit
and do all these poses that I can’t seem to get this overweight 50-something
body into. So thank you for making it okay to do cat and cow all day if need be.
I love you, I think you’re amazing, and I’m grateful you’re in my life.
John, I LOVE this.
It is like receiving one of your classes in blog form.
Every line is a tasty morsel.
It’s one of my favorite YWJ blogs yet.
I love your blog….
What good advice John. These are the reasons I really like your class and often recommend it. Thank you for taking the time to send it. I appreciated your focus Thursday on not hurrying – I’m trying to slow down a little but it’s hard.
I’m enjoying your “more frequent” blog postings. You are inspiring me to move closer to creating my own blog about the creative process.
I love reading your web page John : )