Our mats are not a space of validation. No examination is going on when we practice yoga. No competition should be present (though a lot of competent focused action will benefit us).
Our space and time on the mat are a gift to us. A time to know ourselves, feel our breath, create healthy and stimulating shapes for our bodies. Our mats are a blessing; a metaphor where we can practice skills for the challenges and pleasures of being alive. In our yoga practice we will find time to be who we are and breath with the present moment. Our yoga time is an experiential context to feel undivided, linked to everything and everyone.
Therefore, there is no reason to create struggle, resistance, tension, criticism, denial or attachment to anything we experience. There is already a lot of that out there, in our daily lives. Ideally, the mat is informing of another way of living and feeling life.
From the most basics. The deep directed attentive breath we apply in our physical practices regulates the nervous system. Paying attention to something, instead of being scattered, brings refined brain organization that allows us to get into creative heightened enlightened states. Just the good vibe you have when you finish your yoga practice can change your whole day for the best.
When we believe that our yoga is defined by our range of movement or advanced poses, when we think that flexibility or extremes validate and certify us as true yogis, we are missing a big part of the story!
You and I have been given the chance to self regulate our human experience from within. Through mindset and mood we define our relationship with the external world. There are no prerequisites for this. We all have the right.
My focus as a yoga educator is bringing these concepts to my teaching. While exploring movement and shapes I remind students to move their attention to their breath and stay focused. I know that a successful practice is not one that attains the most advanced pose, but one that targets the soul of the human being. If anything within us feels broken or fragmented we don´t want to break it more bringing separation and violence. We want to bring tenderness, love, respect and compassion to our bodies. That doesn´t mean we are weak. It means that we are finding our strength where it is: in our intention and our determination.
We need to nourish our intentions taking time to define our highest values and how we want to bring them into our lives. The yogis consider ethics a very important and primary part of the practice, and I believe that they did for a very obvious reason.
How could we bring our physical, mental or spiritual practices to success if we are not proud of how we are behaving in the world?
How can a person that is not doing goodness in daily life concentrate on a meditation or pranayama?
How can we do an asana with the purity of alignment and breath that it requires if we have been stealing or judging or offending people?
All our troubles and inner demons appear when we settle ourselves in silence or observation (a good asana practice should have both of these qualities). We would like to have as little of those troubles and demons as we can.
A daily purified way of living will keep shame, guilt, resentment, anger and other strong emotions to their lowest. In this context we can concentrate in our practice with less interruptions and obstacles.
Then, we have nothing to declare because we are travelling light and and we are not exporting our burdens from one place to another.
We have nothing to confess, because our loving actions in the world keep our heart clean and serene.
We have nothing to validate because we already know of our perfection and are happy to support ourselves as we are.
Now, are we willing to be open and explore the adventure of travelling light, be loving and shine our truth in the world?
* Ilustration Daniella Ferreti