When I teach yoga, I like to remind my class that the instructions I am giving are the “ideals,” and the more important instructions come from within. I remind them that the most important part of yoga is the practice of connecting inward to strengthen intuitive listening and cultivate self trust. In yoga class, it begins by closing your eyes, tuning in to your inner intelligence, and then connecting with your breath and your body. It means using the exercises instructed by the teacher to see where the body takes you, where the limitations are, to find that edge between challenging yourself to be a little uncomfortable and okay with it and also to know how far to take yourself, holding back as your body tells you, so as not to cause harm to it. Your ability to hear your body talking to you sharpens with practice. Everyone has their individual edge, so what the person next to you is doing, and where the teacher wants you to go becomes irrelevant. As a teacher, I am there to give you the exercises, time you, encourage you to go deeper into yourself, remind you of your and your body’s own wisdom, offer modifications and safety precautions, and to hold that sacred practice space for you.
The point of this practice is to take the intuition and self-authority we cultivate in class into our lives. We do better when we can navigate our world from our own inner compass rather than from someone else’s and when we can trust our own voice and not need to lean into too many outside opinions (because, quite frankly, that’s hell). Of course the physical practice of yoga offers other things as well, like strengthening our nervous system, which strengthens our response-ability, our digestive, musculoskeletal, endocrine, lymphatic, and circulatory systems; all necessary to keep balanced for optimal health and wellness. The meditation gets us clear and out of the drama, opening the doors of potentiality wider than it previously was.
Yoga in its purity is simply a practice that brings you to you, so that you may step into your life as you; so that you might experience life more fully. Yoga in community strengthens that support. The rest is noise.