“Yoga poses are not about the postures. They are about who you are becoming as you learn them” I read this quote last week and it was powerful. It reminded me of an interesting process that usually happens as we explore our yoga journey. Often we are drawn to Yoga for the physical benefits but as we get deeper into the practice we begin to care less about the physical poses and more about what that time and movement on our mats lets us connect with deep within ourselves. As we flow on our mats, we become grateful for the opportunity to get in touch with who we are becoming in our hearts and spirits as well as our bodies.
So, last week I asked my students to let their practice not be “all about the postures” but rather about connecting with who they are and who they are becoming as they do them.
We began with Bridge pose and I asked the students to ground down through their feet and let their hearts lift to the sky. From there we explored a modified vinyasa for our transitions which can be hard for the “hard core” in us but served as a reminder it isn’t “about the postures”. We went from hands and knees, to knees, chest and chin on the mat, then pressed up to cat pose and back to DD several times to surrender the Chaturanga for a while.
Later in the practice as we entered Pigeon pose I explained that this pose is a good example of our practice because the changes in Pigeon pose happen largely in the mind. We have days where we have a bit more space but for the most part there is not very far to “go” to conquer Pigeon. That being said, usually when we are new to Yoga, Pigeon can be pretty excruciating simply because there are very few other types of activity that stretch the Piriformis and deep lateral rotators of the hip. Through time and practice, most of us come to like Pigeon in some form. Usually this process….this acceptance and appreciation…. comes from the mind; it is a chance to reflect on who we are becoming as we enter this pose as a comparison to who we were the first time.
We used Bakasana (pictured above) to practice this in a different way. I asked my students to think about who they were becoming and not about the posture. As we engaged our bandhas and pressed down through the hands, finding strength, length and lightness I asked them to think not about “achieving” Bakasana but instead about being okay with where they are in the pose and more importantly who they are.
Throughout the week I thought about my continual evolution as a Yoga Teacher; what I have and continue to “become”. I realized that among other things, I have become the type of teacher that finds a lot of joy in watching my students “do their own thing”. When I see a student feeling free enough and connected enough in that moment to do something different…to not worry about getting into the correct shape, it makes me feel happy with what they are becoming.
As we slowed the practice and came back to Bridge pose once again, I reminded my students once again to ground down through the feet and lift their hearts to the sky and I wished for all of us to BECOME that off the mat as well; to find grounding and stability yet feel free enough to let our hearts soar towards the sky. Namaste.