Updated: Jun 18
Being a practicing Yoga Teacher in Mumbai, I get to cross paths with a number of seekers of Yoga with personalities as variegated as the colors of the rainbow. One's personality is the cumulative result of one's past experiences and how one has allowed those experiences to seep into and color one's psyche. With color I mean all the beliefs, attitudes, fears, illusions , and general outlook taken together.
Some of these may prove to be serious obstacles in achieving the goals one has set for oneself with respect to one's Yoga Practice. Here I will attempt to identify some of the traits one picks up along the journey of life which hamper one's progress in a number of directions, Yoga being one.
Touchy about your stiffness: Yoga student
Many of the new aspirants I get to interact with for the first time seem to be too sensitive or touchy about their present state of inflexibility of their body. This is similar to asking some one to help you get flexible - Mind & Body - by standing behind a closed door. Flexibility is a physical as well as a mental concept in Yoga. A Yoga teacher needs access to both of these to be able to help you overcome your limitations related to the same. For this to happen the very first prerequisite is that the student to be accepts his/ her existing state of flexibility. Being inflexible isn't a crime at all. Most of the people above a certain age get stiff physically as well as mentally depending on how they have handled the experiences and lessons that came along their journey of life.
Once you know where you stand, you can fathom upto where you need to go in order to reach the set goal. Certain negative physical states are connected to our injured psyche. The electrical signals generated in the brain under the impact of any fear are meant to be stiffening the corresponding muscles, connected through nerves, in order to prepare them for taking the impact of the feared doom; the chest muscles are rendered shorter and stiffer due to they staying in a shallower and faster breath mode for longer, in order to gear up for the defense against the said fear. People are inherently scared to expose their wounds to the world. Be open, accepting, and discuss about your present physical and mental state with your Yoga teacher, so that he can take the entire being of your's into account while planning the class structures for you, in order to get desired results. Never compare your flexibility with any other being ever, remember you are as unique an individual as your fingerprints are.
Being a passive Yoga student
Communication is the bridge over which the #YogaTeacher transfers the intended skills and knowledge to the Yoga student. In most of the Yoga classes communication is a one way affair in the form of very formal and dry technical instructions coming out of the Yoga teacher's mouth and being received, may not be absorbed, by the Yoga student. The Yoga teacher is seen as a " know all" on the subject the student questioning any attribute of the teaching process, or asking for clarity is generally considered as an unsanctimonious offence. The level of precision in structuring the instructions in a yoga class is directly proportional to level of open communication happening within that class.
Develop a smooth connect with your Yoga teacher right at the beginning before you start the Yoga class. Discuss all your emotions, fears and expectations with your teacher. Ask for as many questions as possible during( in case the teacher's teaching style permits) or after the class, make sure your teacher is aware of how your body feels in a particular posture or form. Give genuine answers to all questions asked by the Yoga teacher with respect to your past , present or future. Use positive connotations while you interact with your yoga teacher: "can we put it more at ease" instead of "it's hurting"; share your overall feel for the day at the end of every class with the teacher. All this will rub your enthusiasm on to the teacher, energising him further to take interest in customising the Yoga techniques as per your requirements. The Yoga teacher must know how your body in particular is reacting or behaving to the techniques being used in the class.
The Glass is already full - I know better on Yoga :
A lot many times, especially when a student has gathered experience from a number of Yoga teachers, books on the subject, a kind of "I know it all" state sets into his Mind. Yoga is a very profound and expansive subject for anyone to absorb its right intent that easily. Each individual sucks in the part which matches his's/her's temperament, knowledge and bend of Mind at the time of learning it. Different Yoga teachers understand the various techniques of Yoga differently which styles their overall approach to it.
Thus keep your Mind empty, decluttered for some space for the Yoga Teacher to add something new to. Be more open minded and receptive to whatever is being spoken on by the Yoga teacher. Find a Yoga teacher who matches your expectations and style of thinking, then pose complete trust into him/her in order to further cement the relationship so essential for you to draw the benefits out of the entire process. Never feel offensive in case the Yoga teacher discusses or highlights any personal issue which you may be very sensitive about.
Learning is a two way process: till the time the teacher learns about the student, only then can the student learn anything new from the teacher. Similar thoughts can be seen echoing repeatedly in the feedbacks I receive from my students on my yoga classes.