Let's be honest.


Yoga is infinitely more than the physical practice of asana (postures).


Sure, this is a great starting point - it is what initially drew me in too. With consistent practice however, there is opportunity to move past this to something far more subtle and juicy. Asana is after all just one tool in the yoga tool box to explore, but there are many more tools, classical and contemporary, which can offer so much support for self reflection to guide every aspect of life.


One early classical yoga text, The Yoga Sutras by Sage Patanjali. only once refers to the physical nature of yoga as the posture that is suggested for sitting for meditation.


Sutra 2.46: 'The posture you choose for meditation should be steady and comfortable'.


The remainder of this text speaks to understanding of consciousness, the mind, and how to live a purposeful life. One of the earliest 'self-help' books perhaps?


Within the Sutra's, Sage Patanjali outlines the ‘Eight Limbs of Yoga’ - 8 different aspect of our yoga practice (i.e all the tools in our yoga tool box to explore) to consider...

  • Yama (moral disciplines)

  • Niyama (observances)

  • Asana (physical postures)

  • Pranayama (breath work)

  • Pratyahara (sense withdrawal/ focus)

  • Dharana (concentration)

  • Dhyana (absorption / meditation)

  • Samadhi (contentment / bliss)


If you are curious to learn more, Judith Lasater, a highly experienced yoga teacher I enjoy learning from, offers some interesting perspectives on the 8 limbs of yoga on a podcast here (skip to 3.30 to avoid the ad intro)


Satya.


Looking to the first limb, the Yama's, there are 5 moral disciplines here. One of which is Satya, often translated as TRUTHFULNESS.


On the mat we can ask if we are pushing into a pose just because we feel we 'should', is ego competing, perhaps we need rest more than another Sun Salutation?


Off the mat we can ask, how am I living a life aligned to my values in work/ my community / parenting / play?...


Or do I really need 5 chocolate biscuits instead of one? (perhaps, sometimes, yes we do :)


I have recently been paying extra attention to how this Yama guides the way that I share yoga.


As I have developed my teaching experience over the last three years I have increasingly been considering the language I use. Words matter. Rather than repeatedly regurgitating fixed cue's for an Asana for example, my intention is to hold space for you to explore what feels right for you in the moment. To offer ideas for exploration in and around yoga shapes, with movement or stillness. To invite you to observe feelings, sharing intentions that might support us. By offering suggestions and options there is far greater opportunity for you, as an individual, to take what you need from the practice - to connect to YOUR TRUTHS.*


Being honest with our Self-Self (the deep one, our soul-self, not ego), through honest observation of feelings, even if they are the ones that don't feel so good, carries so much strength and compassion. So let's feel strong enough to take Svasana for the whole class if we need to deeply rest. Or to bounce and shake off the dust, even when everyone else is standing still.


There is infinitely more strength in practicing our 'truth' than pushing on just because others are.


A Practice of Truth in Breath.


Pausing to connect to our breath (Pranayama - the 4th Limb), just as it is, noticing the strength of what is already there, every second of every day, carries a beautiful truth in practice too.






*(this is what feels 'true' to me at this moment in time. Teaching is a practice like any other that will continue to evolve as I learn, so please do not hold me to anything I write. My truths are likely to change over time too. We are all only human after all.)