When you come to yoga in the West, most likely there are a few things in common: a room, a mat, a teacher, and stretchy clothing.
That is about as far as it goes. Everything from there is up to the teacher and the student, and the style, school or lineage of yoga practice they have chosen to study and adopt.
I find that in the West, teachers of Asana (postures) leave out many of the most important aspects of a good practice, such as good physical cues, instruction of the breath (and I don’t mean just telling people to breathe!), and knowing even just a basic history of the practice itself.
You will find teachers who are bossy, turn the heat and the music up, and make a glorified workout into a “yoga” class… no Namaste, no Om, and no reference to this being the practice of undoing. Hell my business partner took a class with a guy who used the word “crotch” and “butt” repeatedly to a group of mostly women… hmmmmmm.
You will find teachers glued to their mats, doing their practice with you and never looking you in the eye or making sure you are safe, connected and not hurting yourself. I’m not sure how that is supposed to ease the beginner’s mind or advance the on-going practitioner’s practice, but I guess we each have our own way of approaching the practice of yoga.
I have had teachers play raunchy music, repeatedly mispronounce basic yogic terminology, assist with their boobs in my face and back, ignore me when I greeted them (guess I wasn’t cool enough). Assistants have ignored me at big trainings as if I was such a lowly creature and didn’t have friends of my own, and I would cling to them for dear life if they ever looked at me (or anyone else for that matter). Bummer. So much for one love or all men are created equal…
Now I know better. I know that yoga has become a part of the pop culture in the West. I know it has been popularized, fashionized (hey I love some of the cloths myself), trendy and so forth. I know that for the sake of getting big, yoga has been removed of some authenticity…heck I just heard of a local studio telling their instructors to not use Sanskrit, THE LANGUAGE OF YOGA!
Yoga and your True Self
Here is what I know. Yoga is a practice of undoing first, then rejoining to the true self. If you need to wear $100 pants and carry around a rubber mat that cost you a quarter of your paycheck to feel like you are truly practicing, then go for it…whatever it takes to get you on your path and your journey, because for some that is where it might start. We all have a path. Some people want to feel like their ass is kicked to feel like they “did” something in class. Some people want to roll around on their mats and barely feel anything.
Here is what I say and what I teach. If it feels safe and like what you want, rather than what you need, then most likely you are not getting the most out of your practice. Exploring new techniques, classes, teachers, and books can open many doors you may otherwise be too fearful or closed-off to try. The education of yoga holds great power to expand your mind, your values, your heart, and your body.
So many of us want to be told what to do. But we all are perfectly capable beings that can do it ourselves, with a bit of guidance. So here is my guidance. Just one way you can expand, explore and grow. Start by trying something new, something that scares you a little (and is not going to hurt you), something healthy that you are a little inhibited to try, and see what changes you can make. Just trying it is already a start to change.
Root Chakra Meditation for Releasing Fear and Blockages
I teach a lot of Chakra Psychology to my students, teachers in training, and clients. It has enriched my yoga and spiritual practices more than anything else. I recommend to anyone to pick up a copy of Wheels of Life or Anatomy of the Spirit and grab a highlighter because you will need it. This information has healing properties like none other I have explored.
I created a little chart for you on the first Chakra, Muladhara or the Root Chakra, to entice you to go deeper. And of course you can always explore my Chakra Meditation again.
Free Printable Chakra Card – The Root Chakra
Journal these power statements, fill in the blanks and see where it takes you!