Who Decides What’s ‘Proper’ Anyway?

“There’s no ‘properly’. There’s just how it makes you feel.”

~ Keith Richards describing playing guitar

Maybe it was only rock & roll that Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones was talking about, but he did an incredibly good job of summing up my Yoga path and practice, too.

Yoga is about feeling … and letting that feeling blossom from within. 

Yes, there are great books of Yoga wisdom and sutras to guide and inspire us. But, they are just that — guides. They are meant to guide us so that we may find the true reward of Yoga ourselves. From within. Both on and off the mat.

Let’s just talk about the “on the mat” part today.

I know that a lot of my students wish I would spend more class time pushing them into poses … or pulling their arm one way and their leg another.  Isn’t that what Yoga teachers are for?  Pushing or pulling you into something deemed ‘proper’? Something someone has decided is correct or, even, perfect.

But, as I think most of my students know, that’s not my style. Afterall, I could sculpt a body into a beautiful Downward Dog or Warrior Pose. I could move a limb here an inch … or push your hip a schooch in the other direction.

What does that give you? It gives you a fleeting moment of something that may look like it belongs in a Yoga magazine, but isn’t really your Yoga.

It may look all pretty on the outside, but it may hurt on the inside. It may make a muscle tense or a joint ache. You lose the ease. You grit your teeth. You count the moments until you can come out of the pose. 

You lose the Yoga.

I may move a student or encourage a change in the pose with my touch, but that’s merely a suggestion or an invitation to move out of discomfort. But mostly I like to adjust my students with my words, with verbal suggestions that allow a student to find the pose from the inside.

Yoga is about finding the pose on your own … truly owning it and feeling it within you. No teacher can move you there. You have to find it yourself. And, what a great feeling it is when you do.

I wonder if Keith Richards has ever done Yoga? He should. He’s got the right heart for it.

Because Yoga isn’t about doing something ‘properly’. It’s about feeling the spirit of the pose inside, letting it come to life, and letting it shine out.

I hope you’re feeling some good Yoga!  Rock on, Yoga friends!

(And, yes, I AM reading Keith’s autobiography ‘Life‘ … again. One of the five greatest rock-and-roll books of all time. And, a great read whether you love the Stones or not.)

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