You don’t know everything. There I said it. You may know A LOT, you may have studied yourself thoroughly or be a scholar; however I know that the one thing we have in common is that neither of us knows everything.
Maintaining a healthy awareness that we don’t know everything is essential in life and Yoga. The Masters call this awareness “The Student Mind”. We are all eternal students, continuously learning through our experiences of reality in each moment.
The problem is in our very face paced, technological world we have loss respect for the journey. Between all the life Hacks, youtube DIY videos, and online courses most folks are focused on getting quick results. The truth is that despite our desire to create short-cuts for EVERYTHING, there are no short cuts to inner peace.
As we age it is especially easy to forget that we don’t know everything. This false confidence can cause one to over look valuable resources that will actually help us know more. The best way to illustrate this is the analogy of Yoga Blocks.
When I first started taking yoga, like most folks, I wanted to be an expert the moment I hit the mat. I never wanted to use blocks. I thought that blocks were for those who were less able. I COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG….I thought I knew it all. Of course, I knew nothing.
In fact, there is no level at which a Yogi should ditch props. Many Yogi Masters still use props. The benefit of props is that they give you the support you need to safely experience various postures without the risk of injuring yourself.
Trust me, I understand those of you who are out there thinking: “I DON’T NEED NO STINKING PROPS.” I used to feel the same way. It took a trusted, brave and dedicated teacher of mine to really wake me up.
I can admit, when I first started practicing yoga, I was out there on my mat completely forcing it. It was the worst whenever a teacher had Triangle pose in the sequence. I would grit my teeth, hold my breath and stretch until it felt like my eyeballs were sweating. The pose felt wrong. I could feel that I was missing it somehow.
One evening after class I approached the teacher to figure out where I was going wrong. She very candidly asked me why I never used any blocks. Of course I had no good answer, I didn’t have the nerve to say “because I don’t think I need them” even though that is exactly what I thought. She quickly demonstrated what I had looked like doing triangle pose in class. It did not look good at all. She explained that if I kept doing the pose that way I could end up injured because my body was not in correct alignment. She went on to say that all I needed to do to experience an immediate improvement was to give myself permission to use the blocks. She demonstrated triangle pose with the use of the block and it looked completely different! I was awestruck.
It was like a lightbulb went off in my head. I had unknowingly abandoned my student mind to my detriment. There were important resources available to me that would immediately improve my experience and help me learn more, but I had overlooked them. Now not only do I use blocks frequently, But I also encourage my students to use them. The blocks have become a reminder to maintain my Student Mind.
Thus maintaining a Student’s mind is a of continuous benefit to you. You be able to recognize essential resources and happily utilize those resources in order to accomplish your goals with more ease. You’ll be open to the guidance of others and you’ll more readily appreciate the journey!
Long story short… Let your friends, family, teachers, environment, and experiences be your Yoga Blocks. Resources abound, all you need to do access them is maintain a Student’s Mind. Remember life is better with props.
As I have said many times, YOGA IS NOT A RELIGION. Yet one can not ignore the fact that it seems to have some connection with some of the Eastern Religions. Most people are familiar with Yoga’s connection with Hinduism, because of the Hindu iconography found in Studios around the world. You know what I am talking about…. Paintings of Ganesha or Shiva, maybe a Hanuman statue sitting on the reception desk or a pictures of Lakshmi hung in the practice area. Moreover, there are entire lineages of Yoga predicated on ancient Hindu philosophies found in Sacred texts like The Bahgavad Gita. But did you know that there is a link between Yoga and the ancient philosophies of Buddhism??
Buddhism is one of the oldest religions in the world. Many of its philosophies are predicated on ending suffering of all being through the daily practice of Compassion, Self Reflection and Mindfulness. Similarly, the true practice of Yoga is the challenging undertaking of choosing to combine meaningful actions and intentional behaviors in order to be your best self – on and off the mat. There are even more striking similarities that will not only highlight some of the linkages between yoga and Buddhism, but also explain why lineage there are also entire lineages of Yoga based on these ancient Buddhist teachings, like Purna Yoga.
One of the most fundamental connection is between the Eight Fold Path and the 8 limbs of Yoga. The Eight Fold path is the over all guideline for those choosing to adopt Buddhist philosophies. Likewise, the 8 limbs of yoga give a guideline to those choosing to practice Yoga as a method for living their best life.
8 limbs of YOGA
8 FOLD PATH
When its laid out in this fashion the overlap between Yoga & Buddhism is more evident. Ethical Discipline, Moral Conduct, Compassion, Meditation & Self Awareness take center stage across when we take a closer look at the connection between Yoga & Buddhism. But Why does this matter anyway?
There are tons of misconceptions about Yoga. The errant idea that Yoga is Hinduism or a Religion of its own is silly. Yoga is a dedicated practice of self- improvement with some roots in the ancient philosophies that were prevalent at the time when it was created. At the end of the day Yoga is NOT Hinduism. Yoga is NOT Buddhism. Are there tenants of each that can be linked to the underlying philosophies of Yoga, ABSOLUTELY. Whether you can relate more to the philosophies of one or the other as a means to help you get more connected to your yoga practice is your personal choice. There are some Yogis who choose to embrace the whole spectrum of Yoga and its subsequent interconnections, some choose to embrace only certain synergies and still other have found a way to practice in such a way that neither effect them.
The truth is that the aspects of Eastern Religions that have been incorporated into Yoga over time have added to the beauty of the woven tapestry of philosophy, movement and meaningful action that is YOGA.
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**All blogs written by Awilda Rivera, unless otherwise indicated therein.