"If you don’t want to change, don’t do yoga"
I’ll never forget when my teacher said this to our teacher training group back in the late 1990’s. He stated it as if it was a matter of fact, as if change was an eventuality of sticking around in yoga long enough.
I’ve repeated it to students many times over the years. They usually chuckle knowingly and nod their heads in agreement.
But experiencing positive change as a result of yoga practice takes more than just physical ability. When I started yoga nearly 30 years ago, I could “do” all the postures on the outside, but inside was the same old self-critical voice telling me I wasn’t good enough.
It wasn’t until I applied the perspective of yoga philosophy as the context for the physical practice that my relationship with myself began to shift. When I began to learn about the vision of the human being according to yoga, and that yoga teaches that that each of us is fully worthy of love and respect exactly as we are, well, that brought tears to my eyes because of how true and right it felt.
I discovered that postural practice wasn’t only a way to move and strengthen my body. It could also be a field for consciously cultivating a more loving relationship with myself, and even a practice where I could develop the courage needed to examine, and then dismantle, those self-critical, disempowering beliefs I had held for so long.
That perspective was the game-changer that turned asana from merely a physical and mental pursuit into a lifelong journey of growth and positive transformation. It’s what has allowed me to continue to nurture the expansive and positive inner shifts in my practice in the years since.
If you could choose, what would you want to hear your inner voice telling you during practice?