Thursday, October 15, 2009

Did I Ever Tell You You're My Hero

Actually I'm not talking about this guy. Or even these guys, heroic though they may be ...

I'm talking about my yoga students.

At our yoga school, Yoga Tapas, we begin every one of our classes by spending some time sitting and doing some breathing in Virasana - the Hero Pose. This is a poignant reminder to me every time I come before my students of the courage it takes for so many of them to keep coming back to their mats.

I frequently tell my beginners classes that, contrary to what they may believe, they don't require much in the way of strength and/or flexibility in order to develop a yoga practice - those are things that will come with time. What they do need is faith, courage and determination.

Every student at some stage hits that class or point in their practice when they think "that's it - I quit!" This is usually the time when they need their yoga practice the most, but most listen to that self-destructive little inner voice and quit. The brave ones carry on - these are the students who keep coming back (no matter how hard it is); these are the students I teach; and I am so grateful for the opportunity to do so.

Why is it so hard? Well, there is no doubt, that yoga can be a physically demanding practice and many students have physical obstacles to overcome in the way of illnesses and injuries. We also have numerous students who suffer from emotional and psychological obstacles such as various phobias, anxiety, ADHD, severe depression and bipolar disorder, stress related allergies and more. Through our yoga practice we begin to reconnect the body, mind and spirit - a process of self-discovery, self-awareness and eventually self-acceptance which is not always an easy journey, especially for students who have much self-doubt to overcome along the way.

It is tempting when you come into a class full of students and sit down on your mat to listen to that little voice that is telling you that "everyone else in the room has totally got their act together and can breeze effortlessly through a class, while you on the other hand are a total loser and shouldn't be there - you better quit real quick before everyone else finds you out". That sneaky little voice does not want you to discover that everyone else is actually feeling exactly the same way you do to one degree or another, and it will do anything it can to get you to quit before you discover your true potential, because once that happens you won't listen anymore.

I applaud everyone of you who hears the voice and keeps coming back to your mat despite it. You are my heroes.

Footnote: One new student, who has suffered for many years with severe depression, has decided to try regular yoga practice for 3 months and measure the difference it makes in her life. She is writing a blog to document her progress. I know that there is nothing unique about how she feels - there are many of you who have faced the same thing. Perhaps you might leave a comment on her blog or send her an email to let her know she's not the only one - maybe it will even be a surprise to you to learn that you are not the only one.


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