I was speaking recently with some yoga colleagues and interestingly, we had all shared a similar experience:
- the experience of ‘discovering’ something in our practice and then at some point being in a class where the teacher taught ‘our’ discovery,
- of realizing that we had actually been taught that so-called discovery a hundred times before, but just didn’t ‘hear’ it!
I found it quite amusing that this was such a common experience. When I reflected on why, the following 2 thoughts came to mind…
One: So much is conveyed in a class that I think (at least for me) my body and mind can only absorb so much. This is why an instruction I’ve been hearing for 5 years can all of a sudden click and be meaningful in an entirely new way. For whatever reason, at that particular moment in time, I am ready in mind and body to receive (or reinterpret) the instruction. To me, this is incredibly exciting (!) because it means the learning never stops.
Two: In my opinion, there is no such thing as a yoga expert. BKS Iyengar teaches to approach the mat each day ‘as a beginner’. I understand this to mean that no matter how much progress I’ve made, knowledge I’ve gained, classes I’ve taught, there is always the potential to learn more, to delve deeper. As the asanas penetrate, I change. And as a result of that change, I’m forever a beginner learning to understand my state of being (or as I referred to it in my last post, that ‘new normal’). While not easily embraced, I believe this process to be humility at its best.
In today’s day and age there are so-called experts for just about everything. Weeding out the imposters from those actually in the know can be much more difficult than it should be. In the yoga world, it’s no different. A brief search for yoga teachers in my home city revealed thousands of ‘expert’, ‘world-renowned’, ‘best in the city’ yoga teachers. How can this possibly be true?! This made me question my own online presence and whether I was being genuine in my presentation of myself.
When I began writing for yogabound.ca, I knew I’d be putting myself ‘out there’ in a way that is quite different than standing in front of a class and teaching, and I made the conscious decision to be comfortable with that. What I didn’t realize though is that the act of musing about yoga would itself perpetuate an air of credibility. I’d like to take this opportunity to state very clearly that all I know comes from the great teachers in my life. My teachers and my practice. And it’s my teachers that have ultimately taught me how to learn from my practice.
So why do I blog about yoga?
Despite not being a yoga expert, I blog. Should I? I don’t know, but upon reflection I think my intentions can be summed up in 4 main points:
One: I blog to share my passion for Iyengar Yoga with others and hopefully ignite a spark that might lead others to their own mat.
Two: I blog to reflect and process some of what happens on my mat. Like with a diary or a journal, preparing the writings for this blog have been therapeutic in a similar way.
Three: I blog to share the inevitable ups and downs that occur with a dedicated practice. I believe that yoga can be a lonely pursuit. I have the good fortune of studying in a large yoga centre with a strong community of teachers and students. This community has been very welcoming and supportive. Knowing that not everyone out there has access to this kind of support also motivates my blogging efforts.
and Four: For some reason, making my musings public makes me feel like I’m giving thanks for all the gifts I’ve received through yoga.
Truthfully though, I’m kind of fascinated by the fact that I like reading and writing about yoga at all. I believe firmly that what yoga has to offer cannot ultimately be learned from the written word, it must come from that continued relationship between a practitioner and the mat. That said, I do think reading and writing can provide both comfort and inspiration. What do you think? Why do you read about yoga? Whether it’s from this blog or others, what is it that you ‘get’ from reading about other people’s yoga experiences, their insights, or practices? Do you think there is such a thing as a yoga expert?
P.S. If you asked me whether BKS Iyengar is a yoga expert, I would undoubtedly say YES!!!!! But people like him are one in a million, not a dime a dozen as the online landscape would suggest :).