Yoga Guidelines

Photo by Mike Yoder for Lawrence Journal-World
Photo by Mike Yoder for Lawrence Journal-World

Guiding Value: In attending yoga classes and one-on-one yoga sessions with many teachers over the years, I’ve come to realize that there is one guiding value I want to be faithful to yoga as love in motion.

Yoga as Love in Motion: Yoga practice is love for our bodies and spirits in action; a way of loving ourselves in motion and stillness, and through compassion, curiosity and challenges, learn how to live in this body and on this earth with greater awakening. While it’s human habit to want to control our bodies and our lives, yoga is aligned with the greater nature of the earth, sky and our own bodies that is always completely present and yet always on the verge of change. To do yoga is to cultivate a way of being in greater alignment with the always-in-motion nature of our bodies and planet. Here are some guidelines:

1. Listen to your body and lead yourself according to what feels right to you.

2. Let your breath guide you. If you get lost, tired, sore or discouraged, return to your breath.

3. Trust yourself to develop greater health at your own pace. In this regard, don’t compare yourself to others and what they can do. As Gopi says, “I have been to the floor, and there’s nothing there.”

4. If you feel like holding a pose any longer will result in injury of any kind, pull back. If a pose hurts too much, pull back. You can also sink gently into child’s pose to regenerate energy and let the earth replenish you.

5. Push yourself as it feels right to you, working with your edge but always not tipping over into injury or excessive pain. Pema Chodron says when it comes to learning what’s going to bring you home to yourself or further away, only you know the answer.

6. Remember that your flexbility ebbs and flows from hour to hour. Treat these fluctuations as you would fluctuations in the weather: sometimes it’s snowing and sometimes crocuses are blooming.

7. Relax. As Gopi also says, “It’s just yoga,” and since yoga means yoking and connecting with the life force, listen to what the moment presents to you.

8. Yoga is a practice, not a destination. Practice yoga just as you would an instrument or kindness with strangers. Use whatever you encounter to wake up.

9. Meet yourself with curiosity and compassion at each turn, bend and stretch. Treat yourself as you would your most beloved. Even if you fall into bouts of self-hatred or doubt, you can give yourself tenderness, ask questions and stay present with what your life is showing you….on and off the mat.