They say change is good. They say "when one door closes, another one opens". They say "Everything happens for the best" or "whatever will be, will be".
Still, no matter what "They" say, change is terrifying!
Yoga teachers are no different from the rest of the population in that we get anxious sometimes about shifts and changes in our lives. We begin and end personal relationships, change living situations, and since many of us have "day jobs", we face the same hurdles of office politics, annual reviews, and the potential to be promoted or laid off.
The concept of yoga teaches us to let go of things we can not change, to focus our energy where it will do the most good. We try to train ourselves to stop grasping for things, and to stop clinging to people, ideas, or situations. This is all well and good on paper, but putting into action in our daily lives takes a lot of work!
Did Hanuman, the monkey-faced Hindu deity ever talk about what a pain it is to search for a new job? Did the elephant-headed Ganesha ever teach us about breaking up with a boyfriend? Can we imagine Shiva ever packing everything into a U-haul to move across the country?
In a word, no.
We are prone to grasping and holding on. Maybe we hold onto a job, a lover, a friend, or even a thought or habit because it is familiar. we are afraid of losing that with which we are familiar, even if it no longer serves us. This wasted energy on things that do not nourish us leads to what psychologists refer to as "cognitive dissonance"; the uneasiness caused by engaging in behavior (as well as thoughts and actions) that run counter to our core values. This can cause sleepless nights, irritability, digestive problems, and stress-related chronic disorders in the physical body.
One great aspect of our yoga practice is we get to practice discernment. Discernment happens on the mat when we try an asana (pose) and decide whether that pose feels "right" in our body. Are we stretching too deeply? Are we breathing in a way that helps or hinders the practice? Are we motivated by an excitement to explore and expand, or are we motivated by the ego? When we do poses from a place of expectation, or "should", is that really good for us?
What serves us? Nourishes us? Drives us?
Yoga helps us cultivate discernment to stop at any point and check our motivation for poses on the mat, and then we get to take that out into the world and put it to good use! Are we in a relationship that fills our need to give and receive love and respect? Are we in a career that fills our hearts as well as our bank accounts? Are we eating food that makes us feel strong and healthy, or sick and tired?
This is where we apply discernment in our daily lives. As we practice yoga together, we help ourselves and each other take those pauses to listen to that quiet, little voice inside that says what is really right for us. As I launch this site, I am actively committed to practicing discernment in the content and message. When I lead a class in movement, I choose poses and practices that are appropriate for the group. I encourage each person in attendance to actively participate, and ask tons of questions along the way!