I’ve been slowly creeping my way back into a regular yoga practice. Excluding this week (because of the start of my new boot camp and my trip to Vegas this weekend), I’ve been in the studio 3-4 times a week. It’s a far cry from my old 2x daily practice, but it feels so good all the same.
Recently I took class from my teacher Johnna, who I studied under for my RYT-200 and haven’t really worked with since. As always, her class was exactly what I needed.
One thing yoga teachers hate is when students move before the cues, trying to predict the next pose or just running on autopilot. Staying the course as its delivered instead of marching to our own beat is a lesson in discipline, presence and listening.
In this particular class Johnna had already taken us through a series on the right side so when we got to warrior I, everyone in the class knew that the next pose would be humble warrior, a common transition from warrior I into a deeper hip opener.
Without saying a word, Johnna watched as probably more than half the room (myself included) mindlessly clasped our hands behind our backs and bowed into humble warrior.
“I didn’t say a word,” said Johnna. We all stayed where we were.
“I never said humble warrior,” she said. “I didn’t say a word, but you all assumed I would and moved anyway.” Some of us start to sheepishly move back to warrior I.
“Think for a second about alllllll that shit people have supposedly said to you that’s made you feel hurt and angry and upset and stressed,” Johnna pauses. “Maybe they never said it at all.”
Always the tiny Buddha, that Johnna.
Sometimes in yoga we make assumptions about what the teacher will say and we start to make up our own series without really listening. Just the same in life we make assumptions about what other people will say and create our own storyline on top of it, layering unnecessary anxiety over words that were never even said.
When it comes to yoga, knowing what we did on the right side in the series makes us jump to conclusions about how the left side should unfold. This is equivalent to letting what happened in a past relationship or job dictate how you create stories in your head about what will unfold in the current one.
When we do this we got trapped in this know-it-all cycle of assumption that robs us of the opportunity of experiencing life as it is.
Obviously in yoga the goal is to do the same thing on each side, but learning to listen and act according to what is actually happening and not what we think will (or should) happen is an excellent lesson in applying this principle off the mat.
And to that lesson, I think we can all humbly bow.