How to Ditch the Dogma

I have a question. Why is there so much noise out there that says, yoga is that and it has to be this way? Everyday, it seems I’m exposed to a cacophony of strongly formed opinion and remarkable claims that burn my brain. It makes it hard to remember yoga is something beyond all of that which is embodied in every body and every mind differently. The truth is there are many paths, numerous perspectives and multiple approaches. There is nothing to say there is only one way. I am so done with the dogma.

Yoga isn’t about wearing prettily patterned leggings and encouraging your leg into impossible places!

When I first began a regular yoga practice, classes were held in my village hall. A venue which attracted a suitably valour clad clientele and ensured all lessons were accompanied by the sound of local kids kicking a football in the carpark. It wasn’t glamorous, but it did the trick.

There were no social networks, no yoga celebrities, no Lululemon, no shiny studios, no expectation and no pressure. There were no blogs or articles with sensational titles, accompanied by poorly aligned pose imagery, that seem to insist we should all make like superheroes in spandex.

It kept things simple. There was no competitiveness, no confusion and no need for comparison.

Too much information

Then yoga became really, really popular.

In response, more and more information, from the insightful to the absurd, slowly seeped into the mainstream to quell the curiosity of the surging, searching crowds.

The trouble is it can now feel like we’re being suffocated with a series of one-size fits all solutions which contradict each other.

“We should sweat, we should flow. We should practice at pace… No, wait — it should be slow.”

It’s easy to forget that yoga is an inner journey that is intimate and individual.

Find your path, find yourself.

Through yoga we come to discover a oneness within, with the recognition there is only one us.

Although we are united by so much similarity, we are all different and that contrast is fueled by constant change and evolution. So it just doesn’t make sense that yoga has to performed in a particular way by everyone, forever.

When a practice is prescribed that is orientated towards a more personal purpose it becomes evermore potent and powerful. While guidance is helpful, especially in the beginning, tuning in and listening to our inner guru is ever more valuable.

The yoga practice that is right for you is one that varies according to your own needs and matures over time.

The truth is we must each find our own path. Here are five tips on how you can cut through the noise, ditch the dogma, and establish a practice that is appropriate for you:

1. Find your own entry point.

Begin where you are, accepting your body and your experience as it is. Work with what you’ve got, not what you wish you had.

2. Practice. Listen. Repeat. 

Try different styles of practice and find one that brings you physical and mental benefits. Notice how you feel following a flowing vinyasa or a full power flow, pay attention in the days after a slow and sleepy yin, then pick your classes according to your needs.

3. Remain objective.

Look to trusted resources and teachers for information. Take everything else with a pinch of salt.

4. Let go of expectation.

Don’t get stuck or hung up that yoga for you has to be a particular way. A little discipline goes a long way, but not if it’s to the detriment of your wellbeing. Be willing to adapt. Keep the effort up, but release the need for an end goal.

5. If it hurts, reconsider your approach.

No pain, no gain has no place on the mat. Yes– we can work hard, we can sweat, we can experience our bodies stretching and strengthening as our minds expand, but reconsider anything that causes real pain and serious discomfort. 

Agree? Disagree? Share with me in the comments section below!

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  1. Megan Reddix

    Megan Reddix

    August 24, 2016 at 10:14 am

    I totally agree! Whenever a new student strolls into my studio, even if they have been practicing for years, I encourage them to try every class we offer at least once. Every style of yoga, every yoga instructor, every yoga environment is different. Also – trying every class helps the student know the studio and allows them to be more well rounded in their practice. I also encourage any students in my class to listen to their bodies first and foremost. Take modifications or variations as they need to. I am their guide, not the end-all be-all of their practice. Move as they please and if they have questions or need help with their alignment, I will take cues from their body language and move to assist. That also goes for pain. Discomfort is okay, shaking is okay, being challenged is okay. Pain is NOT okay! If you feel pain, move from the posture. Readjust, come into child’s pose, or find a pose that works better for your body in that moment. Thank you!

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  3. Amanda Sides

    Amanda Sides

    March 2, 2017 at 11:01 am

    I love this. Yoga is (should be) a place of absolutely no dogma. There’s nothing you have to be or do to practice yoga. Just practice!

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