Getting an “A” in Yoga

Sounds silly, right? The idea of getting a grade or receiving some kind of external reward for performance in yoga so obviously goes against our most basic reasons for doing the practice.

 Seth Godin in his book What to do When It’s Your Turn, writes:

 … The prevailing system of the educational-industrial complex puts the fear of a ‘C’ in us. The entire point of twelve (or sixteen) years of our lives isn’t to learn anything, it’s to get an ‘A’…What if instead, we decided to opt in to a different path, the path of always learning?

Because yoga is, or can be, all about continuous learning on so many different levels, it is a perfect example of “the path of always learning.“

In the alignment-based yoga practice, learning is progressive. It happens in stages.

First is the form of the pose. It’s about learning how to get the body in and out of the shape, what goes where and how to get there and back. At this stage it is also about developing the necessary strength, flexibility, and body awareness to perform the pose.

Some stop here. If we are doing the practice as a physical workout then this might be it.  We might feel like we have gotten the “A” when we can ‘do’ the poses.

For someone who is interested in using yoga as a path for self-discovery, however, this is only the beginning.

Once we know the form of the poses, we work on the level of action. This involves seeing, sensing, listening, observing, adjusting, refining, seeing, sensing, listening, observing, adjusting, refining, and so on. In this way, we progressively penetrate ever-deeper levels of awareness through the poses.

This work calls forth our power to be self-reflective, to inquire into our experience and use that inquiry to unfold understanding and insight. We begin to use the practice as a field for experimentation into who we are and even what this life is all about.

This is precisely the point of yoga as a "path of always learning." It is our own selves that are the never-ending and continually-unfolding subject of study and learning, inquiry and insight.

The rewards of this type of practice are experienced not only as an enhanced and integrated sense of well-being, but also in an expansive, empowering and ultimately liberating vision of ourselves, others and the world around us. What if this was the reward of all types of learning?