Why do you do Yoga?‏

“True yoga is not about the shape of your body,
but the shape of your life.
Yoga is not to be performed; yoga is to be lived.
Yoga doesn’t care about what you have been;
yoga cares about the person you are becoming.
Yoga is designed for a vast and profound purpose,
and for it to be truly called yoga, its essence must be embodied.”

~Aadil Palkhivala, Fire of Love

Currently, I do CrossFit. I was asked a question just the other day “does doing CrossFit change your yoga practice?” Meaning, “does it make me less flexible?” Yes! And what a great question. One that brings me back to this idea of, “what are we as yoga practitioners in Dubai understanding about Yoga from our teachers? From our peers? Are we as a collective group of yogi’s here in Dubai teaching the foundation of the purpose of yoga?

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far (and by no means is it easy to put into practice especially everyday) is to honor my path, face myself and my daily challenges, and begin to understand and ‘let go’ of my ego.

Now, as I’ve said before, I think the Ego is so important for us to understand because of it’s role in how we learn the deeper parts about ourselves, but it is also very important to allow ourselves to just BE, putting Ego aside. Once we allow ourselves to just BE, we begin to honor our practice and how it ‘evolves’ throughout the stages of our lives.

I’ve had several teachers say to me “you just can’t be a good teacher unless you practice asana every single day.” Have you ever wondered about people who don’t have limbs? Can they be yogi’s? My answer is YES! My thought process is different, not right or wrong, but Yoga is so much more to me than asana. Journal writing for personal and spiritual development is my yoga practice; being kind is my yoga practice; the relationship I have with my family is my yoga practice; recognizing & working on my faults and weaknesses is my yoga practice; friendship is my yoga practice; asana is my yoga practice; and CrossFit is my yoga practice.

Yoga is so much more than asana. For me, I believe you don’t have to be an acrobat in order to be a good yoga teacher. In fact, most people in the world won’t be an acrobatic yogi. Some of the best teachers I know have a very strong and limited asana practice, and some of the best acrobatic yoga teachers I know admit they don’t know how to teach what they’re doing, they only know how to show what they do. There’s a big difference between instructing and teaching.

I’m grateful for the question that woman asked me regarding CrossFit and how it effects my practice because it made me realize that CrossFit actually helps my body get stronger in the places where having too much yoga asana was making me weak. Yes, from an anatomy standpoint, there is such a thing as doing too much asana. After all, asana IS movement. And too much repetitive movement without a balance can create misalignments and problems within the body. Jill Miller, Founder of Yoga Tune Up says we should have an asana practice every third day, and that all poses are not made for every body.

My question to all of you is this: “Why do you do yoga asana?” If the answer is to do the craziest, fun yoga poses out there, great! Find your teacher who will take you there.
If the answer is to bring health and vitality to your body for the rest of your life, fantastic. Find your teacher who will teach you how to be safe with the notion that you’ll most likely not get into the craziest poses you see on Instagram or FB. My advice to you is this: Be ok with whatever you choose, with whatever phase of life you’re in and honor that in others.

I’m not a perfect teacher, and I’ve had many doubts (and still do) about me being a yoga teacher along my journey. One thing I can honestly say about me though, is when my body tells me something is wrong I back away and figure out a solution rather than push through and I’m grateful for that. Yoga asana is a beautiful science, but not a perfect one. If you veer off the traditional path once in a while, and take a few steps back from your progress remember that’s exactly where you need to BE. Honor that.

Take care of YOU! See you in class,
Liz

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  • Sanjay
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