Coming back to Yoga and Accepting YOUR journey…
This week, I had a new woman come to my yoga class. She was very kind and happy to be there, able to practice. However, as soon as I walked in, she started talking about her body in a negative way and complaining of her physical capabilities. I immediately said what I tell my students often, “There is no place for judgement in here. Use this studio as a safe space where negativity is not welcome.” Every body that walks through the door is different and has different needs, so I encourage students to do what they can and focus mainly on their breath and how they FEEL.
The entire class, this woman spoke aloud, most likely disturbing the others. I continued to state, “Be where you are. Be patient with yourself. Find your breath. I am breathing in, I am breathing out…” Eventually, the woman quieted down and was able to listen to my instructions, instead of fighting her body. But after the class, I got to thinking. I thought about how frustrating it was to teach someone who was incredibly negative and vocal about every single thing I said, but also how I had to focus on my breath even more as a teacher. As a teacher, I am there to demonstrate compassion, acceptance, patience, and knowledge. Returning to my breath and allowing myself to stay present with it helped me to stay present with her, and the others, and give proper guidance and encouraging words.
I think what frustrated me most was the way she spoke about her body, her age, and how she should be thinner. These are thoughts we all encounter, too often. The fact is though, they are THOUGHTS, not the truth. Our bodies are a gift; every one of us is gifted a body to carry us around. Our bodies need love and attention, not judgement and cruel thoughts. Part of coming to yoga, and this deepens the more we practice, is coming home to ourselves. We have to realize where we are right now, not 20 years ago, not weighing 5 or 20 pounds less, not perfecting a certain yoga pose. We come to the mat to ACCEPT ourselves and give love to our bodies, minds, and souls how we are today. The practice is only partly physical!
I think it hurt me to hear the woman speak so harshly because I have had those same thoughts, just as many of us have. I wanted to hug her and tell her the breath matters more than moving the body, but she will learn these things in her own time, just as all of us yogis have. I don’t want anyone to think negatively of themselves, because I have seen just how much it hurts instead of inspiring us.
No matter what brings you to the mat, chances are your thoughts will transform and something different will bring you back each time you practice. The practice has taught me how to soften and be kinder to myself. Teaching yoga has shown me how to offer kindness to those who need it in their hearts. Many people come to yoga to change something, to become more flexible, to lose weight, to wear cute yoga pants, but what changes most often is their hearts.
Patience. Kindness. Inspiration. Compassion. Freedom. Spirituality. LOVE. Truth. HEALTH. Practice. One breath at a time…