“The group wants more of a challenge in their yoga class. Next week, add some harder poses please.” The gym owner told me. I sighed, realizing this was another group of people completely missing the point of yoga.
Yoga means different things to us all, but to me, yoga is not a workout. Yoga is separate to a workout.
And when I agreed to fill in for some yoga classes at my local gym I admit, I had not expected to be told to ‘work the class harder’. I am not a gym instructor, I am a yoga teacher.
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Unity of Body, Mind and Spirit
Yoga is an opportunity to create union in our body, mind, and spirit. And it is not my place as a yoga instructor to challenge your physical body as a personal trainer would or to bring you dangerously close to injury. Look at the fitness community (and the world we live in) these days. Everything is geared towards toughness, challenge, pushing, perfectionism, hardening. Yoga is a space to find balance. If you are soft, through yoga you can start to strengthen. If you are hard, yoga can invite you to begin to soften.
Say No To Yoga Challenges
So, if you ask for more of a challenge in your yoga classes – I challenge you NOT to challenge yourself in yoga. I challenge you to surrender to the subtle stillness inside of your beautiful being.
If you challenge yourself everywhere else in life then perhaps yoga is the one place where you can just learn to be, to accept and to explore. Sure, you might not feel like you got ‘benefit’ from a class because it doesn’t promise you 6-pack abs. But perhaps that’s the point. One of the most challenging yoga classes I have ever done was one where the teacher guided us to stand in mountain pose the entire class. No movement. Just stillness. Now that was a challenge.
Wherever you are on your yoga journey, the one thing you can be promised is it is always going to teach you something. Notice what you are trying to achieve from your yoga practice. Next, notice what happens when you surrender that desire and simply enjoy the practice for what it is. The same goes for life. Take a deep breath, and surrender what it is you think you want. Now you can enjoy your life for the perfection of what it is right now.