Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Ideal Yoga Pose

As a part of my teacher training program, I ask teacher training students to draw stick figures of what the yoga poses should look like when viewed from various angles, i.e., from the front, side, and top.

Usually I get moans and groans about this request because people are self-conscious about their artistic ability.

But we press on, because I want to see if my future teachers can reperesent on paper how they think the skeleton should be ideally aligned in a particular pose. That's good.

It's good because alignment matters. (I can still hear my very first yoga teacher telling us that alignment is more important than flexibility. Thank you, Betsey!)

If you get your body segments aligned properly, you become structurally stonger, more stable. With stability comes ease. Less work. More awareness.

If teachers can hold in their minds an ideal model of each pose, they can compare the student in front of them to that model. With a little skill and compassion they can help their students get closer to the ideal and the ease that comes with it. (By the way, sometimes it's not ease you get when you approach the ideal. It's some other lesson or insight.)

But if you're not careful, alignment becomes a holy grail that you pursue, at times, to your detriment and the detriment of others. Perfectionism takes over and you can't see the gifts you've been given from yoga. Your vision is clouded by all the imperfections you see.

If you're a teacher and you can't see the good in your students, yoga classes start to get oppressive.

The ideal yoga pose then is a tool that can help you on your way, but if misused can become a bludgeon.

The great actor Michael Caine has been quoted in many interviews describing the difference between a movie star and an actor. I think his distinction is a useful one here. He says:
The difference between a movie star and an actor is this; a movie star will say, 'How can I change the script to suit me?' But an actor will say; 'How can I change me to suit the script?'
Therein lies the value of the ideal yoga pose. On my way to expressing the beauty and uniqueness of who I truly am, through the form of a 'standard' asana, I change. I become a bigger person.

Imagine if you will the probably millions of actors who have attempted over the years to faithfully portray a character in a well-known drama. If they change it, everyone knows. If they change themselves, no one knows but them and those close to them.

Take encouragement today and go after some ideal yoga poses. But on the way to reaching your perfect pose, don't forget to count the blessings you receive.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry

p.s., Enroll today. Sallie Keeney and I just set a date for our newest workhsop, Experience Neti Flow, at Show Me Yoga Center in Jefferson City. During this 1.5-hour workshop you'll experience the ancient practice of jala neti. You won't just read about it or hear about it or learn about it. You'l do it. And you'll be glad you did.

Jala neti
is a simple purification process that uses a neti pot and water to cleanse your sinuses. The benefits are amazing, especially if you constantly battle sinus infections and headaches, post-nasal drip and irriateted throat, frequent coughs and colds, or allergies.

If you don't have problems with these upper respiratory illnesses, you'll still want to experience the benefits that your immune system gets when it is relieved of the daily duty of eliminating dust, pollutants, toxins, irritants, mucus, pollen and allergens. You'll get a great energy boost when your body isn't sapped of the strength it typically uses to battle these invaders that we breathe in daily.

Tuition is $30. Advance registration is required. Everyone gets a brand new neti pot to use and take home (a $15 value) along with a course guide that answers all of your questions.

The Experience Neti Flow workshop is scheduled for Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 6:30 pm at Show Me Yoga Center in Jefferson City, MO. Call (573) 636-5656 to register with your credit card.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.


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