Yoga offers a comprehensive approach to overall health and wholeness; attempting to synchronize our physical body and our beliefs/thoughts about ourselves (as well as the world around us). For many beginners this can be a daunting task. When beginning the yogic journey, it may prove difficult to remain detached from the physical and mental goals that were probably the impetus for seeking out yoga in the first place. The physical practice of yoga beckons us to come as we are; with no qualifications to be met, no goals to attain. The only prerequisites are that we be honest enough with ourselves to listen to our bodies and respectful enough to heed their messages. Our commitment is not to what we hope to become, but to who we are now: giving ourselves permission to experience each moment, posture and sensation, exactly as it is, without judgment.
Because yoga’s approach to health extends beyond just the physical, overlooking our emotional response to our practice would compromise its intent. We often experience our inability to re-create a posture we’ve seen as a failure or inadequacy on our part. A healthy (mindful and accepting) response to our limitations and successes is an important first step. Our commitment to learning and growing is what ultimately evolves our practice.
Each asana is a question; one that needs to be answered individually. Instead of finding ourselves in the posture, we need to find the posture in ourselves. I often tell my students, once they’ve found a level of comfort in a posture, to close their eyes and observe what’s going on internally. What is their mind being drawn to? Are they experiencing discomfort? Can they allow their focus to move fluidly, throughout their body? As they breathe, what (if anything) inhibits a deep inhalation? Without at least a moderate level of comfort in each anana (posture), how can we be expected to explore and simply be in the pose? This is where I find the Three Minute Egg to be indispensable. The Egg compliments postures where extension, stabilization and/or passive support are needed. For those beginning their own practice, it not only provides all the physical benefits that students are looking for, but it can help provide the encouragement they need to keep coming back to the mat.