In my book, it is when we start to look at yoga as an exploration of relationships, that we really begin knuckling down to a true yoga practice. As a yoga teacher, me taking ownership of how I relate to myself and others around me is even more important if I am to lead and educate my students with compassion and clarity.
We all begin to play around with relationship in yoga class the moment we think about where to place our body in relation to the room (are we 'front row' or habitual 'back left corner'?) and the mat ("where do I need my feet to be on the mat in the pose?").
As we get a more technical understanding of asana, we think about the relationship between our joints and limbs. As we get to know the poses better we may become best friends with child's pose... and mortal enemies with crow pose, for example.
So what we really mean by relationship in the context of yoga, is how we approach and react to our body, mind, self and others.
Every time we practice in class we are fostering a relationship between ourselves and the teacher, and the students around us. Do you tend to judge and separate yourself and others, or do you use it as a chance to connect? Do you resist authority or put people on pedal stool? Do you try and take something from others energetically or are you self-contained? Without exception we are all engaging in the dance of relationships, action and reaction.
We can 'rule and conquer' our hamstrings as we 'nail' the splits, but unless there was some kind of democratic process of dialogue and permission in the build up, this is likely to end up in pain and suffering. We can mentally berate ourselves for not being 'good enough' at yoga... or for any other failing that surfaces in our mind as we practice... or the mind could be unconditional friend and ally as we practice.
Thankfully, the canonical text of yoga, the yoga sutras, offers us guidance on how to approach relationship with ourself and others in practice and in life. Take one of these approaches day for the next 10 days and reflect on how it can guide your relationship with your practice, your body, and others round you. Let me know how you get on and share your thoughts here!
RELATIONSHIP TO OTHERS
1. Peacefulness, non-violence
3. Gratitude, non-stealing
4. Controlling sexual desires and urges
5. Generosity, non-attachment
RELATIONSHIP TO SELF
4. Self-study / study of spiritual books