My Yoga Manifesto – PART II- Kindness

Like most people who come to yoga, I was first drawn to what I needed least from a yoga practice.

  • heat
  • intensity
  • power
  • competition

Too much heat and intensity for my already intense personality burnt me out quickly.  So I stopped going.

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Manifesto – a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives, as one issued by a government, sovereign, or organization (or in this case yoga teacher).

II. KINDNESS

Eventually I found what I really need from a yoga practice – kindness.

You may be scratching your head wondering what the hell kindness has to do with stretching and contorting your body into funny shapes.

As it turns out, a lot.

Let me explain.

When I first started taking classes with Michelle at It’s All Yoga (Sacramento), I was struck by her warmth and friendliness. She’d always greet me with a hug – and by hug I mean a full body embrace (she gives the best hugs)– and welcome me to class like we were long-lost best friends.

kindness

Then before we’d begin class, Michelle would remind us to work somewhere between effort and ease. She’d invite us to explore how we felt in our bodies in the different poses and listen to what we needed to feel good in that moment.

Admittedly, at first I thought this was crazy talk.

Why would I come to yoga class and not do my best poses?

Why wouldn’t I push myself harder than I had the day before?

How would I ever get better at yoga?

In these early days with Michelle, she’d walk by my mat and lovingly put her hand on my shoulder and say “For you my friend, 70 percent.”

I tried to do what she said, but it felt so foreign.

Who was this person that didn’t want to see the best that I had to offer?

Didn’t she see that I could do more?

What did she know that I didn’t?

Over time, what I learned from Michelle is that yoga isn’t a performance.

It’s isn’t a competition – even with yourself.

That what you could do yesterday doesn’t really matter. Every time you do a pose it’s different because this moment is different from the last.

The only thing that really matters is the now.

Michelle’s kind reminders of “70 percent” were exactly what I needed to hear. I needed someone to teach me to be kinder to myself.

As it turns out, being kinder to myself is my yoga.

Michelle’s kindness is one of the reasons I’ve decided I want to teach yoga. I hope to touch the hearts of other people the way she has touched mine.

My Yoga Manifesto – Part I – REST

Manifesto: a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives, as one issued by a government, sovereign, or organization (or in this case, yoga teacher).

tami2012

I. REST

I believe in resting a lot in yoga class. Sometimes I lay down flat on my back like a pancake, sometimes in constructive rest, and other times I rest with my forehead on the floor in child’s pose. Sometimes I sit on a block and drink water while looking at the shapes other people make with their bodies.  [So beautiful, the human body, all those different shapes and sizes, lines and angles…]

Why do I rest? Partly because I work so hard doing everything else in my life and I’m tired.

I rest partly because I’ve had excellent teachers that remind me to rest when I’m tired or to not push past my edge.  [ BIG THANKS to the teachers at It’s All Yoga in Sacramento for teaching me this lesson!]

I rest partly because it feels good once you get past the weird ego thing of ‘I’m in yoga class and I must do everything better than everyone else.‘ Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

At this point, I consider my resting  in yoga class a public service.

I rest so that all those people that might want to rest can look at me and think “Oh thank god, someone else is resting, I can rest too.”

I know this happens because it used to happen to me. A lot. I’d want to come out of a pose, but I didn’t want everyone to know I needed to rest so I just powered through it.

One day something clicked in my head and I decided it was my mission to make people feel ok about resting.  By being the first to rest, I am modeling the behavior I would like to see in others.  Now when I see people listening to their inner voices telling them to rest and they actually do, I feel I’ve done my work here.

We keep joking in my teacher training class that I should open a studio someday that only offers 90 minutes classes of Savasana. I know I’d want to come to the class where rest is not only ok, but encouraged, so maybe other people would too.

If you are one of those people that doesn’t think they need to rest (I know about your kind….) I think you should rest too.

You’ll thank me later.