For many of us, yoga is just about putting our bodies in awkward shapes.
But really, it is so much more.
Lately I have met a lot of people who are very physical in their lives; they run, they dance, they lift weights and their overall response upon hearing that I teach yoga is...
"Oh I can't do Yoga. I've never done it before".
And of course I wonder, why, if they have never actually done it,
would they preemptively decide against it?
Now, I do understand if there is a physical handicap for not being able to do some things.
For example, I have never flown a plane. And I know that I can't.
I only have only one eye which gives me limited depth perception and restricted peripheral vision.
I physically can't fly a plane.
And that's ok.
But so many people decide that they can't do yoga,
before they even give themselves a chance to try it out.
For the majority of us, when we began anything for the first time (walking, writing or reading) we weren't good at those things either, but rather our skill evolved over time.
So before we actually embark on any kind of new practice in our life,
the decision to try something, which begins in the mind, is actually the first step of the practice.
Svadyaya is often translated as "the study of our self", which, when left unchalleged,
can all too often turn into narcissistic naval gazing.
But there can be another definition behind this fundamental aspect to a yoga practice.
Svadyaya is also "self motivated study", meaning, we are encouraged to inquire,
to investigate and to broaden the scope of our mental ability, knowing that
a yoga practice actually begins in our mind.
And we can do this all on our own without even attending a class or touching our toes!
Looking into the types of classes that are offered in our neighborhood requires a google search. And maybe if we decide and choose to move our bodies,
we can even do this at home on our own!
I personally love how accessible online classes can be,
this is why I offer three short classes here on my site.
But diving a little deeper into yogic philosophy, physical anatomy and meditation practices requires a teacher or a guide. Also accountability, when working with others, is a huge asset when we start to deepen our investigation into more difficult territory.
Personally I have made a lot of strides in my development mentally and physically, and I hope to keep making more when surrounded by my peers, colleagues and students. In fact, being a yogi is being someone who commits to the pursuit of knowledge,
to expanding our minds and the decisions we make.
But I know that self motivated study is easier when I'm surrounded with others who are also interested in learning. This is why going to a group class, or even better, working with a teacher one-on-one has helped continue the path of inquiry and study.
So basically, there is so much we can do on our own. Right now. If we just decide.