Make No Assumptions
As a yoga instructor, I practice yoga both on and off the mat. Before leading a yoga class, I make outlines and lineups of the yoga sequences we’ll be practicing. I also consider core yoga concepts so the yoga students and I can enjoy reflective discussions before class.
Well, it just goes to show that everything about yoga is a practice!
Knowing there’s a yoga principle related to having a beginner’s mind and treating each yoga class as a new experience, we aren’t supposed to assume anything during yoga practice.
So, I made this (assumption alert) “easy” lineup where most of the yoga poses were low to the ground. We literally were to remain seated, kneeling, or lying down for the entire class. There was no downward-facing dog, no chaturanga, no balance poses.
I also informed the students before class that we’d spend the entire sequence low to the ground. I shared with them the outline of the yoga flow and (assumption alert) told them that the class would be relatively simple for everyone.
Bad. Idea. All. Around.
First off, I shouldn’t have assumed any of the stretches would be easy (or difficult) for anyone. Yoga is a personal journey. We listen to and honor our bodies during each flow. On some days, certain poses will feel relatively easy, while on other days the exact same poses are nearly impossible for us to access.
Did we get worse as a yoga practitioner? Did we lose all the knowledge we ever had? Did we forget how to do yoga? No! No!! And, no, again!!!
As mentioned above, each time we step onto our yoga mats we start with a clean slate. If we’re truly stretching from a beginner’s mind… it’s as if we NEVER practiced yoga before. From this approach, we can maintain a true sense of personal exploration. We become more attuned to our bodies and physical needs. We make adjustments in real-time to tailor our yoga practice to the present moment.
Next, as a yoga teacher, I knew better than to assume that a class would be “easy” or “difficult” for anyone. Just because we didn’t stand up to our feet the entire time doesn’t make things easier or better.
For some practitioners, yoga poses can be more difficult while kneeling. If the knees are bothersome or the hips are tight, even seated poses can be challenging. So, just because the stretch appears “easy” when viewing it… doesn’t mean it’s simple for everyone to actually get into.
Honor the Body
Yoga isn’t about being easy or hard. It’s not about poses we can or cannot do. Yoga is about the moment that you find yourself practicing yoga.
Wow, think about that.
Yoga is about the moment you find yourself practicing yoga.
When we approach yoga from this standpoint, we truly can enjoy a brand-new yoga experience each time we unroll our mats. We stay open and curious. We stretch and breathe in the moment. We listen to and honor our bodies. We practice yoga with a beginner’s mind.
So, the lesson? Make no assumptions about yoga. Place no labels on yourself or the practice. Allow the yoga (both on your mat and off of it) to support you in staying curious, nonjudgemental, and fresh.
For, each yoga experience is (in theory) the first time you’ve ever practiced yoga.
Feel free to visit me here. I’m more than happy to partner with you on your healing journey.
About the Author: Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, HNB-BC, RYT (200) is a holistic nurse, registered yoga instructor, and reiki master.
Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is a certified coach, nature lover, and avid meditator.
Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bulls. She enjoys gardening, jigsaw puzzles, farming, music, and hiking.