Outer Ability & Inner Peace


This morning … & I mean MORNING … I guest taught for Caitlin’s Morning Stretch class at The Yoga Garden. The class is working on Bird of Paradise variations … at 6:15 in the morning … whaaaattt?!


Here’s where my ego enters … binding poses are not my strength. My shoulders don’t move that way, & yet my pitta personality wants to use (abuse?) my flexibility in other areas to push into the pose … to the point where I risk injury. But hey, I share yoga practices  with the local community … I’m “supposed” to be able to do poses …


So I’m looking up preparatory poses & variations with straps. BTW, here’s a VIDEO I found that helped me find support with a strap:



I shared these variations with the class this morning & we played around a bit. I felt  good about the sequence overall … yet I can’t say I felt very comfortable with my sharing of Bird of Paradise pose, honestly, because it exposes my weaknesses & blind spots.


What I DO appreciate is observing my fellow practitioners experiment in their own bodies, & work with the variation that best suited them at the time — whether it be Tree Pose, Bird of Paradise at the wall, a forward fold with the bind, or Bird of Paradise with a strap. If you’d walked into class this morning, you would have seen every person doing something different — & it was ALL good. Why?


“Ahimsa” came to my mind when considering this pose & what happened in class this morning. One of the 5 “yamas” (part of the 8 limbs of Yoga), ahimsa loosely translates into non-harming. Ahimsa includes avoiding harm of the environment, fellow humans & animals … AND avoiding harm to yourSELF.


Jason Crandell states again & again that the yoga practices can be confusing, challenging, even uncomfortable … but yoga shouldn’t hurt. So often people (including myself) come to a yoga class & crank themselves into poses — or even worse, a “teacher” cranks them into a pose, calling it “the full expression of the pose” (vomit) — & end up doing harm.


The people in class this morning showed me ahimsa at work, without even mentioning the concept. Each was doing his/her pose, they all looked different from the outside, & they weren’t willing to risk their inner peace for a pre-determined outer shape of the body. Non-harming.


On my Instagram today I came across the “Outer Ability ≠ Inner Peace” Accessible Yoga t-shirt. The message applied perfectly to my experience today — each of us is responsible for our inner peace, & our inner peace has nothing to do with our ability to make shapes with our bodies. The yoga poses have an important place in the Yoga system — yet they are always in service to the higher goal of Self-Realization & going off the mat with an inner peace that drives us to make the world a better place for all. I’m so thankful to you Mike, Lisa, Bonnie & Larry for teaching me today.


Published by ericaengel42

I practice & share Hatha Yoga for a simple reason -- it works. Hatha Yoga in the Himalayan Tradition is a holistic system of philosophy & practices passed down through an unbroken 5,000 year lineage of Himalayan sages. What Hatha Yoga is not: trendy, bendy or one-&-done. What Hatha Yoga is: a systematic approach to uncovering the real, authentic YOU in body, mind & spirit. Hatha Yoga cultivates well-being, stability, clarity & ease in modern life through traditional, time-tested practices. I also recognize both our shared humanity & our differing privileges & barriers -- I am a cis-gendered white female with a graduate degree, who has dealt with family trauma & an eating disorder. My goals in my own practice include to cultivate awareness of my own privileges & social conditioning, unlearn & re-learn in order to be mindful & take compassionate action toward a more beautiful, just & peaceful world for ALL humans, creatures & our Earth. I'm making mistakes daily, & hopeful that I'm falling forward toward these goals & vision. I hope we can walk our paths & support each other along the way.

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