Rereading Yoga

critic from "Ratatouille"

While I was putting together the new Yoga Book Review page, I noticed that my reviews and re-reads reflected a similar shift as the changes in my physical practice.  My initial reviews are filled with judge-y statements, cynicism and anger.  I wasn’t able to separate the message from the medium and as a result missed a lot of great thinking from some wonderful writers. Realizing this, it reminded me of how I began my physical practice and how that journey is now repeating itself with my engagement with yoga books, theories and philosophies.

When I first started to practice yoga, it was all about the physical.  I focused on the execution of the poses. I didn’t breathe. There was no difference in the way I moved through a yoga class than if I had been in Cardio Kicks.  I would set physical challenges for myself to finish a whole vinyasa class without modifying any chaturangas.  It was all about whether or not I felt like I was “succeeding” in class.

When teacher training started and we were teaching our first Sun As and Bs, I did so many in a row I injured my shoulders.  I would NOT take a break.  Breaks were for losers.  Breaks were for people who weren’t good enough to be in teacher training and by God I would PROVE to myself and everyone else that I was as strong as they were … even if it meant injury!

Now my practice is much gentler and I’ll drop down to child’s pose when I need it.  I don’t think I could identify when that shift between muscling through and compassion happened, but my shoulders are sure glad it did!  Injury and pain just weren’t worth it any more and the idea of completing ALL the chaturangas in a class wasn’t an appealing challenge.  Now I set the intention (a kinder word in and of itself) to breath mindfully.

As I’ve gone back to re-read various books from teacher training, I’ve found the ones that I most struggled with have the most powerful messages.  Am I finally learning to see beyond the delivery?  I’d like to think so.

What books have you read that you loathed, then later learned to love?
What aspects of your practice have changed from when you first started?

Weeping Willow via Flickr


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