Your pose is not your practice. That’s what my Ashtanga Yoga teacher, Dhawi Pienta, whispered to me when I was in my Mysore 5:30am practice last week. She said that to me because I kept stopping in the middle of my practice and just sitting there.
She looked at me and swirled her hands around her head as if to say “your mind is swirling,” and to be honest, it was. I was literally going through a conversation I needed to have with someone later in the day and I was worrying about how to have the conversation. I was everywhere but in the yoga studio. The only thing I was doing was making certain that I did the pose the right way. That’s why she said to me:
Your pose is not your practice!
That phrase has stuck with me.
We are not doing mere poses in yoga. We are literally breathing and fluidly channeling our minds through body movements. From the outside in, it may look like poses. To the contrary, it is so much more.
While practicing yoga, there should be no pauses. When a person pauses, that means they are running through thoughts in their mind, like I was, or doubting themselves by disbelieving in their ability to move forward for fear of what the next move will bring. There should be no grunts, holding your breath, quick moves, or sudden jerks. Your breath and your body should move in tandem and you should have a calm, still facial expression.Your mind should simply focus on the breath while releasing all judgement, strongholds, and negative thoughts.
My practice is very spiritual and, as a result, I find it is my time to connect to God; to meditate on Him; to allow scripture to wash through my brain and penetrate my heart and my soul.
Undoubtedly, the poses themselves are challenging. But as we breathe, meditate, and allow ourselves to become free by ridding ourselves of self-doubt, worry, fear or anger, we can move through the poses with ease. We literally dive into each challenging movement. We face it and take it head on. That’s why when you watch a seasoned Ashtanga Yoga practitioner, you likely become mesmerized by the ease with which they flow through their practice.
Practicing Ashtanga Yoga is a lot like life.
We all are offered a choice. We can merely “act” our way through life by simply doing the “poses” of life, or we can channel our minds and breathe through the challenges and truly experience life.
When we focus on appearing a certain way, we begin to force our way and demand attention, instead of allowing the attention to be where it needs to be—humbly learning, growing, and bettering ourselves.
We must dive in and do the inner work. We must breathe deeply and channel our minds to let go of what does not serve us well. By doing so, we become more self-aware, emotionally intelligent, and open to possibilities. We handle life’s challenges with ease and fluidity. We consistently grow and learn with each new adversity by facing our fears.
We rise up and commit to the the life that God has designed for us because we are not worried about personal appearances or being popular.
Our minds do not become entangled in bitter roots that grow up to choke out our real voices and defile others.
That is why your pose is not your practice, and it certainly is not your life.
Let’s get busy living.
Learn more about Ashtanga Yoga and the Mysore practice by clicking here.
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