Yoga and listening to yourself

Often in yoga classes, I observe people trying to complete the advanced version of yoga poses, even though they struggle in an easier option and in doing so, place their body in an awkward posture or fall over completely. On the other hand, I am overly conscious about my body’s limits in terms of strength and flexibility. I always move into the easy option of the pose first, even if I’ve done it countless times, as my mind and body are not the same every day. I think this comes from having good yoga instructors who always remind me that it is not about getting to the advanced level of a pose and suffering in pain there, no. It is about listening to your body, going only as far as you can, aligning your body in the correct posture, maintaining awareness of breathing, and enjoying being comfortable in a pose. It is also important to focus on yourself during the poses, and not compare yourself to those around you in class.

During the 200hr Yoga TTC, we learnt about Patanjali’s sutras for Asanas – 2.46 being “sthira sukham asanam” which means “steady, comfortable posture”. I think as a yoga teacher it is very important to emphasise this to students, especially beginners who have never done yoga before, though gentle reminders throughout the class that they should be able to smile during an asana and not be suffering in pain. This directs the mindset of how postures should feel, and enable the students to carry this on as they develop their yoga practice over time, to strengthen the connection between mind and body by listening within. I still continue to remind myself to relax into each pose, not just the ones I like because I can do them well.

– Ari (200hr YTTC, 2018)