If yoga is practiced as it was intended, ‘a journey to the self’, then it is a practice that can never truly be mastered. When we approach our practice with curiosity and humility, we open ourselves to new insights. When we embrace these new insights we discover an endless journey.
“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” ~ The Bhagavad Gita
The dictionary definition of ‘humility’ will tell you that it is synonymous with having a low opinion of one’s own importance. Another definition may tell you that it is the “absence of pride.” However, to be humble doesn’t mean to not have pride or confidence in oneself. It is the use of comparison, that often accompanies pride, that has the negative impact.
What does it mean to be humble?
Whether in life or on the mat, a constant comparison with those around us to feed our own self worth is fraught with danger. Firstly, we’ll never live up to the expectations we create in our own mind. Secondly, striving to achieve that of our neighbour negates the personal journey we’re on. If we don’t live up to the expectations we set for ourselves, based on comparing with others, then we eventually swing back to the “I’m so pathetic” frame of mind.
On the yoga mat we are taught to have confidence in ourselves with an acknowledgement that we can always learn something new. Even as teachers, we are constantly learning in our own practice, from our students and from the world around us. By continually striving for personal growth we stay fresh in our practice, connected in our relationships and moving forward towards our goals. It is why goal setting is such an important tool, it keeps us moving forward and striving for this growth.
The key to approaching your practice with humility
The key to humility is to cultivate in your own mind a trust in the process. Every time you step on the mat, let go of what you think you should accomplish and instead check in with what wants to be expressed. This is where journeying, discovering and trusting in ‘the self’ comes to fruition. When you approach your practice from a humble place, you will emerge from your mat with greater fulfilment.
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.” ~ Suzuki Roshi
There is also a misconception in yoga that the harder an asana or pose is to perform, the more benefit it provides. This naturally makes us strive to get past the ‘easier yoga’ asanas in favour of what we consider to be more difficult ones. Again, this is where comparison and ego start to infiltrate our practice. A humble approach to our practice, however, keeps us safe and connected to our bodies. Some bodies simply are not made for certain shapes due to bone structure or because they are tight by nature. When we let the ego take over we ignore the messages our bodies give us and risk injury.
The poses that are the best for you are those you can practice comfortably, without pain and without strain.
Yoga asanas were originally designed to prepare the body for long periods sitting in meditation, striving for the highest goal of yoga: loving union with the Supreme Soul. Whilst humility is a key virtue in achieving this, even if you are practicing asana solely for their physical benefits, a humble attitude can keep you safe. This doesn’t mean that you can’t challenge yourself, it simply means adopting the practice of yoga as a complete way of life as opposed to something you switch on and off when you come to the mat.
‘Humility’ is your power.
This month focus on your ability to bring humility to your practice on and off the mat. Set yourself up with a positive affirmation. This could be one for the month or a different positive statement each week or day. We just encourage you to keep it consistently on the theme of ‘Humility’. An example is ‘I am humbled and excited about myself and my life all at once.’
Explore and create your own.
We look forward to seeing you on the mat this month where our teachers will weave our theme of ‘humility is my power’ into their classes and teachings.
Sweat, stretch & smile!
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