I was unable to sit down for the final two weeks of my yoga teacher training program.
I was in Bali, (having a ball) l and ended up with a massive boil on my bum. Well almost, it was actually on the top of my thigh but hey…the point of this story will still hold! A staph infection. Very nasty business.
Ironically, it was the week of practicing the Ashtanga series one, which has a lot of seated poses in it. I had to think about how I was going to adapt all the poses to what I was able to do - which meant transferring them all into standing equivalents. This was a wonderful lesson to be given so early on in my teaching career - yoga practice is the tool, not the goal.
I could have pushed and insisted that I figure out a way to make my aching body fit those poses and truth be told I was tempted. There I was among all my gorgeously fit new friends doing the classic pretzel twists all over the floor and I stood out like a sore thumb, having to stand up with my sore bum. Fun, fun, fun.
I believe deeply in yoga as a tool to help us navigate the challenges of this human life. And yes, the discipline of working towards a challenging pose is a great character building exercise requiring strength, steadiness and discipline.
But much of what can happen as a result of this kind of emphasis is people trying to push themselves into postures or ideologies that don’t quite fit. They twist themselves up trying to find some ideal version of a pose or person.
True yoga brings YOU closer to YOUR true essence.
This is what the deeper sense of alignment now means to me: the postures, sequences, ways of moving and attending to mind and breath are aligned to what is needed in the moment for me to come into peace and balance - physically, emotionally, philosophically, mentally and spiritually.
It is well known that two of the major traditions of the 20th century were born from this very fact. Ashtanga Vinyasa, vigorous and dynamic, was developed for a young, fit and bendy man. Iyengar Yoga - slow, solid, steady and supported was developed for a young man with physical challenges. Both men had the same teacher but what they were taught was adapted for the realities they brought.
If you have or are working on developing a yoga or just general health practice - how might you adjust it to be more aligned with the truth that is you?