I can’t even count the number of times that a person has shared their story of a bad yoga experience. Sadly, the bad story is almost always linked back to a stern instructor. Some instructors believe that yoga should only be practiced in the true sense of the ancient art. Or, practiced exactly to the teachings prescribed from a specific yoga style such as Bikram or Iyengar. So, if you can’t inhale or exhale solely through the nose during your practice due to sinus issues…..I guess yoga isn’t for you. Or, if you can’t perform Half-Lotus due to a knee injury…..you’d best roll up your mat and try swimming instead.
Does this sound a little bit off to anyone? Well as a yoga instructor my response is, YES! I whole-heartedly believe that yoga is for everyone. As a student you need to believe that too. We are all individuals that step on our mats with individual lives, individual needs, and the individual right to share in a practice that is reflective of self. I don’t think the world is going to stop spinning if an exhale escapes from the mouth versus the nose. The more important point is that breath is moving, and you’re aware of it.
My belief is that a yoga practice should allow you the opportunity to explore the possibilities, and to gain a better understanding about your body’s functions. In time you should find more balance, more strength and more awareness of your actions. Some things will become more possible….some things simply won’t, and that is more than alright. The goal is to connect with self not to be pushed into actions that do not grow your practice, or benefit yourself.
The next time you enter a yoga class come with an understanding that your practice is yours, and yours alone. You know your body better than anyone; therefore, if it doesn’t feel right don’t do it. Move at your own pace and things will unfold when they unfold. Continue to move with breath, continue to improve your form, continue to grow your awareness of self, and in time your practice will become more and more a reflection of self……..as it should be.