In a world of ‘instagram yoga’ it’s hard not to get caught up in the idea of how yoga “should” look or feel. One of the lesser celebrated realities of yoga, through social media at least, is the idea that yoga is actually completely adaptable to the individual.  Regardless of size, gender, age or anatomical limitations, yoga is accessible to all in some form and we should be curious in our practice.
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The message that should be made clear is that the goal of yoga is not in fact to be able to touch ones nose to their toes, or achieve the seemingly elusive upside down backbended splits. The goal of yoga is much simpler than that.
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Yoga is the perfect opportunity to be curious about who you are.” ~ Jason Crandell
Curiosity is defined as ‘a desire to know or learn’. Yoga affords us the chance to be curious about ourselves in a way that very few other mediums allow. The practice of yoga help us to explore how we feel as we move, hold postures, breathe and connect. Not only do we reflect on the feelings in our body but our awareness is also drawn to the movement of our minds. This inquiry allows us to learn more about our own bodies and on a deeper level, to know more about ourselves emotionally and spiritually.
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Of course you can show up on the mat and simply follow the cues of your teacher, or you can take these ‘guidelines’ as a chance to dive deep, to question and to open yourself up to new knowledge. “Real” yoga is about the journey, not the destination.
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“Yoga is not about touching your toes, it is what you learn on the way down.” ~ Jigar Gor
When we let go of the expectation that yoga should look or feel a certain way, we have the chance to actually ‘experience’ yoga. When your teacher asks you to take your awareness inward, this is exactly what they are suggesting you do. Take your gaze away from the mirror and into your body to notice not how a pose looks but the sensations it brings up in the body. Explore how it feels.
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It is why we give so many variations in class, because one prescriptive pose simply cannot suit every body. Anatomically we are all structured slightly and sometimes dramatically different, which is why our yoga practice needs to reflect that. There is no way your yoga teacher can tell how the head of your femur fits into your hip socket from merely looking at you, but YOU can tell how moving into Warrior I with your feet in line feels. Our aim is not to get you into THE pose, it’s to make the pose work for you.
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Yoga is an opportunity to be playful, to connect, to re-discover your inner child. When you watch a child moving and learning it’s an amazing thing. The excitement when they take their first steps, the concentration as they begin to learn how to use a spoon, the pure wonderment when they discover they have a belly button! Take a trip back to your childhood, imagine you are discovering your body for the first time. When we so often live our lives on auto-pilot, use the precious moments on the mat to explore and notice yourself.
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Yoga is all about the true connection to the self, sometimes strength comes up because that is what is needed, but other times compassion or patience is needed. I truly believe a consistent yoga practice will strengthen the elements of the self that are needed to navigate the paths that we walk.” ~ Patrick Beach
So explore what it means to be curious. Take your yoga practice as an opportunity to be curious, here are our top tips on how:
  1. Be curious about your practice – try new things, explore new variations. You’ll be amazed at what you may discover “on the way down”.
  2. Be curious about your body – don’t simply accept how a pose should look. Be explorative in your practice, guided by how you feel, to find what works for your unique body.
  3. Be curious about your mind – try not to approach the mat on auto-pilot. Notice what you bring to the mat, notice feelings & thoughts that arise before, during and after your practice. Acknowledge your mental and emotional state as much as your physical.
  4. Be curious about your intention – why do you want to “achieve” that pose? why do you practice yoga? No answer is wrong, but we learn a lot about ourselves when we ask the question.
  5. Be curious about yoga – don’t be afraid to ask. Our classes are not structured to be “pretty”, each pose, each sequence, each breath has a purpose.

Yoga doesn’t just exist when you step on the mat. When you invite yoga into your life you invite it into every aspect of your being. Mindfulness on the mat helps you to approach situations in your life with patience and compassion. Strength and confidence on the mat helps you feel empowered in every day life. Don’t simply be curious about your practice, but curious about how your practice can positively influence your life.

Sweat, stretch and be curious Kula crew!

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About the author: Andy is a qualified Yoga Therapist & Teacher. She is Communications Manager at Kula Yoga and director of Makai Yoga Collective on the Bellarine. Andy is also a health & wellness blogger, hobby photographer and mama of 3!
Photo credit: Team Kula by Andybbear Photography

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