You know that story of ‘doing life right’?
People who ‘do it right’ are born in the right family, attend the right school, get accepted to the right university, get the right job, pick the right partner, settle in the right neighborhood, etc. The template of this story is quite similar all over the planet, with slight variations depending on the part of the word where it’s happening.
The story of doing it right. And if we happen to miss or fail on some of the steps, you will never fully succeed in that thing called ‘life’.
Sounds a bit outdated? Absolutely!
So why are we still buying into and promoting that same belief when it comes to our yoga practice?
A fetish of proper alignment in yoga is not a sexy one.
Merriam Webster online dictionary defines fetish as ‘an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion’, ‘an object or bodily part whose real or fantasies presence is psychologically necessary for sexual gratification and that is an object of fixation to the extent that it may interfere with complete sexual expression, and ‘a rite or cult of fetish worshippers’.
There is this fetish in yoga and it is all about right angles and lines and one perfect form to strive toward, regardless of how your body feels during the process: one proper to do your down dog, one proper way to put your knee over your ankle, one proper way to eat…
This yoga fetish keeps telling us that if we’re out of proper alignment and if we don’t ‘do something right’, something bad can happen (for instance you’ll mess up your knees if you go over 90 degrees angle) and only once we get EVERYTHING right, the magic of yoga will unfold.
However, the one thing you keep “perfecting” this way is a silent discontent with yourself, your body, your ‘imperfections,’ because the proper way is always somewhere ahead of you. Perhaps only true masters can get it right?
Mistakes are part of the process
Good news is – there are many ways to do something right. In our yoga practice as well as in life!
I don’t know about you, but for me exploring options without fear of trespassing and doing something wrong is so much fun. Being a beginner is refreshing. Being in awe with myriad possibilities is delightful. Owning my own choices is empowering!
Let us figure things out through play, improvisation, changing our strategies, drawing new maps, questioning, laughing, and learning.
We can be yoga teachers who infuse life and joy into yoga spaces we hold, instead of rules and dogmas.
Certainty provides us with a sense of control. Plus, it sells well!
I keep hearing from yoga teachers how they love exploring different movement modalities and science informed movement in their personal practice, but they feel pushed by the market forces to offer that thing called ‘yoga’ that is easily recognizable. To fit in and to teach the same yoga as everyone else.
And I get it. We all need to pay our bills as teachers and the pressure is high. But business wise, doing what everyone else is doing is not necessarily the wisest strategy!
Codifying and packaging movement is convenient if you want to create a particular brand of movement ( including yoga). Some people are very successful at it and they need other people to spread their gospel.
But our nervousness system does not register our movements as particular yoga style, or pilates, Feldenkrais, etc movement style, but as a beneficial and non beneficial, or safe and unsafe movement. And that’s all!
The rest is the questions of our integrity and creativity as movement teachers.