We like to complicate our lives. I do it all of the time. How often do I say something jokingly and then walk away from a conversation hoping to god that the other person understood I was kidding?
What if they took it the wrong way? Do they think I’m awful? They must think I’m awful. Ugh.
Or someone says something to you and then you spin it in a thousand different directions.
What did they mean by that? Do they secretly hate you? Are they trying to make your life crazier than it is now? Do they know your deepest darkest secret? They do. Double ugh. They have found out you are not perfect, you are in fact human, and they do not like you. This is bad. I need to talk to them.
But then you do talk to them and realize they haven’t thought about any of these things. They were in their own world, enjoying their own perception, their own dream, and you have wasted a ton of time wondering what someone else is thinking. Sound familiar?
It’s amazing the drama you can create in your own head. We can complicate our lives with just a thought in the wrong direction. But, as I have matured and gotten older, I realize that if I say what I mean, try to be clear, and have integrity around those words, life is much simpler.
Also, if I understand that others are saying what they mean and doing the best they can within the given circumstances, I can forgive, forget, and move onto the next moment with clearer intentions.
This also applies to my yoga practice. I remember in the beginnings how complicated I used to make things. I was constantly thinking things like, “What did the teacher mean when they said to touch your stomach on the thighs, chest on the knees, and the face on the legs below the knees in Hands to Feet Pose (Pada-Hasthasana)? Did they mean I should bend my knees more or pull more? And why? Will I be more spiritually awake if I do?”
As my practice progressed and I took the steps to become a yoga instructor, I began to understand that the best way to reach a student was to keep it simple to understand.
The yoga is simple. But it is never easy.
So this week I thought I’d offer a couple of tips to take what I call the “fuzz” out of your practice. Fuzz is any thought pattern that takes you away from what is truly intended within a posture. It is what makes yoga complicated and holds you back from achieving the benefits of a given posture.
Whenever the mind starts to invent meanings of the words used by the instructor go back to the basics. What are you trying to achieve?
Take Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) for example. You want to compress the entire spine. How do you do that? Kick and look up to the ceiling. That’s it. If you can achieve that then add the layers on. Can you bring the knees in a bit? Can you push the stomach into the floor a little more to get the legs up higher? Can you try and hone in on the muscles in the upper spine to get the head to drop back even more? Take one step at a time. Achieve the broad strokes of the posture and then add on the tiny nuances.
Is there something that seems ridiculous to you in class? Do you just skip it? A teacher is not just asking you to do something because they want to see if you will do it for fun. Think about your practice. If there is something you are resistant to, even if it seems like a tiny thing, ask the teacher before or after class what the purpose of that particular instruction is. Often you will find out that there are benefits you may be missing out on that you can simply gain by following the well thought out instruction. Sometimes knowing the “why” is everything.
The more you learn about the yoga the harder it gets. Once you have learned to take that huge step to get into Triangle (Trikanasana) you can’t go back to taking a smaller step. Have discipline. If you learn something new it’s yours. It is now part of your practice from here on out.
With each class you want to build on your knowledge. Go forward. Have integrity. If your postures have integrity, you will have integrity outside off the mat. People love being around people that have integrity. They are magnetic. Do your best, but never be lazy. A yoga instructor knows the difference between someone that is giving everything they’ve got and someone that is just not. If they are trying to push you, it’s because they believe you have more to give.
Try not to lean into the drama. Go from posture to posture focusing on yourself. Wiping, swiping, making, “I am working so hard,” faces, and chugging copious amounts of water make the class seem never ending and deplete you of the energy you need to keep going. We know you are working hard. That’s why you showed up. It’s our job to get you through. Listen to the instruction, keep breathing, and let everything else go.
Hopefully, these tips will help you get rid of the “fuzz” that has crept into your practice. Always remember you showed up on your yoga mat to be your best You. The lessons you learn within your yoga practice are not just lessons you apply to the time on your mat. They can stay with you for the rest of the day, the rest of your life, and make every facet of your existence function at a higher level.
Tori Hicks-Glogowski is a yoga instructor and yoga business coach and mentor for yoga teachers. She is the author of the book, "Views from the Podium: The Life & Times of a Hot Yogi," and has been writing and sharing her yoga experience for the past seven years. Find out more about Tori now.