A few days ago, a friend messaged me saying she needed some yoga encouragement after what she described as a “bad class”. One that had left her feeling demotivated, disappointed and just a bit downtrodden.
My heart wept for her immediately. Not only because I hated the thought of my beautiful friend feeling so low, but because that is the exact opposite of how a yoga class should make you feel.
I probed a little further.
“What did you think was so bad about it?”
She told me that the class (which had been advertised as beginner) was only directed at the most advanced in the class, with headstands and inversions making her feel totally out of her depth.
I could go on here about how wrong it is for a teacher to make a student feel so isolated and how yoga shouldn’t be about whether or not you can hang around in the perfect headstand (a blog for another day!)… but the thing is, there’s something far deeper going on here. Something we (me, you, my friend) need to master first of all.
It’s that notion of what is a good vs bad practice.
And it’s something that has taken me a while to understand. Something that developed as my understanding of what yoga truly is grew. The idea that it is something far beyond the asana. An opportunity to use the practice to understand and connect with your body and mind.
Is it a bad practice just because you can’t get into crow pose? Is it a bad practice because your forward fold isn’t sinking in the way it used to? Is it a bad practice because monkey brain is getting in the way of your savasana?
Or is it a sign to check in and recognise the areas of your body that need nourishment? The areas you might not have noticed? Or the ones that you just took for granted, accepted, brushed under the carpet?
Because it isn’t bad, is it? It’s just different. The same as every day is different… from morning to night, no two moments will ever be the same. So why should your practice be any different?
There are so many reasons we might come into barriers during a practice. Stress, tiredness, diet, fear, aches, pains, ailments. All problems that in our fast-paced, constantly moving life we tend to “make do” with. We take for granted that we’re never going to feel “quite right”. We get used to feeling exhausted. We tend not to question the bubbling feelings of anxiety because “everyone feels like that.”
But what if we used our time on the mat to identify these issues? To press in on them and start paying attention? Took that attention off the mat to make subtle changes in our day to eradicate them?
And what if that awareness became a daily “checking in” morning routine? If it could be used to start your day in the best possible way?
Man. That would be pretty great, wouldn’t it?