Yoga: Lessons On And Off The Mat

So many people have started practicing yoga. And that is wonderful!  Such a beneficial practice, for the body, mind, and spirit. I believe it is through the teachings and practice of yoga and meditation that we are beginning to collectively change..and we need to!!!!

But let’s be real, there is some snobbery that can be found within the yoga community. Some straight up insanity in fact.. Like Bikram’s claim that his yoga is superior and all other styles are crap.  I remember many years ago, taking a Vinyasa Flow class.  I practiced next to a very strong woman.  After the class was over, I smiled and said to her, “Wow I loved that class it was so creative.” She said, clearly agitated, “Humph, how can they call that Vinyasa Flow, we didnt even do one vinyasa?”  In her mind, she had decided that Vinyasa Flow meant lots of plank, chaturanga, upward facing dog, and downward facing dog. And there could be no flexibility.

“There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading to the same place, so it doesn’t matter which path you take. The only person wasting time is the one who runs around the mountain, telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.”

Hindu proverb

Through the years I have taken and taught a lot of yoga classes, different styles, different teachers,different states, different countries.. And to be entirely honest, sometimes the critic pops up in my head starts judging and says “What the hell is this teacher doing?!?” But that is me being rigid in my thinking, in my belief of what a yoga practice should look like, how to sequence a class, etc (obviously the teaching needs to be safe). However, when I quiet my mind, and shift my awareness to my breath, and to whatever is being taught, those judgements dissolve,and I end up enjoying the class.  Often realizing it was exactly what I needed. Every yoga class can offer something beautiful..Intention.  

There are classes, styles, and teachers that will resonate well with us, but even those that don’t can provide valuable lessons.. about our bodies, about patience, about becoming more flexible, body, mind, and spirit

Flexible Trees
Flexible Trees

Last night, I almost cancelled my yoga class due to rain…(it was going to be held on the beach). But instead, after a little coordinating, I taught the yoga class at a dive center in a hotel. Always a first for everything. Hahaha!  It was a great strong class. I talked with my students about the many different types of yoga, different teaching styles, and the importance of being flexible with their yoga practice. Stay open, we shouldn’t come into a yoga class with an expectation of how it should look, feel, or be. I shared with my students (my friends), one of my favorite Buddhist stories, a beautiful lesson, Here it is:

The True Sound Of Truth

“A devoted meditator, after years concentrating on a particular mantra, had attained enough insight to begin teaching. The student’s humility was far from perfect, but the teachers at the monastery were not worried.

A few years of successful teaching left the meditator with no thoughts about learning from anyone; but upon hearing about a famous hermit living nearby, the opportunity was too exciting to be passed up.

The hermit lived alone on an island at the middle of a lake, so the meditator hired a man with a boat to row across to the island. The meditator was very respectful of the old hermit. As they shared some tea made with herbs the meditator asked him about his spiritual practice. The old man said he had no spiritual practice, except for a mantra which he repeated all the time to himself. The meditator was pleased: the hermit was using the same mantra he used himself — but when the hermit spoke the mantra aloud, the meditator was horrified!

“What’s wrong?” asked the hermit.

“I don’t know what to say. I’m afraid you’ve wasted your whole life! You are pronouncing the mantra incorrectly!”

“Oh, Dear! That is terrible. How should I say it?”

The meditator gave the correct pronunciation, and the old hermit was very grateful, asking to be left alone so he could get started right away. On the way back across the lake the meditator, now confirmed as an accomplished teacher, was pondering the sad fate of the hermit.

“It’s so fortunate that I came along. At least he will have a little time to practice correctly before he dies.” Just then, the meditator noticed that the boatman was looking quite shocked, and turned to see the hermit standing respectfully on the water, next to the boat.

“Excuse me, please. I hate to bother you, but I’ve forgotten the correct pronunciation again. Would you please repeat it for me?”

“You obviously don’t need it!” stammered the meditator; but the old man persisted in his polite request until the meditator relented and told him again the way he thought the mantra should be pronounced.

The old hermit was saying the mantra very carefully, slowly, over and over, as he walked across the surface of the water back to the island.” 

The spiritual path is full of many experiences and valuable lessons.. We must walk the path with flexibility….and realize the power of intention….

To The True Truth, Tiff

(I wrote this openly and honestly and dedicate it to my students from last nights yoga dive class!! hahaha)

The Buddhist story was copied from http://www.dharma-haven.org/tibetan/meaning-of-om-mani-padme-hung.htm

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2 thoughts on “Yoga: Lessons On And Off The Mat

    1. 🙂 I dont think anyone EVER has a straight path… Hahaha! But one thing I know, I keep learning and growing and healing through yoga… I just love that story of the Teacher and the Hermit… 🙂

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