This is an excerpt from a recent yoga workshop I gave called “The Neurobiology of the 8 Limbs of Yoga.” I’m talking about why you can’t expect everyone to be able to tolerate doing yoga slowly and why versatility as a yoga teacher and yoga therapist are important.
I don’t mean to sound “judgy” here. When I watched it again, I felt like maybe it came off that way – but what I was trying to do is point to the dissing of slow yoga – or the brushing off of slow yoga as useless when often that is coming from an unexamined place. Yeesh, it’s interestingly unpleasant to watch oneself teach on video! I am my biggest critic!
I don’t think you’ve come across as judgy. I see it as providing real-life context. When I teach people in treatment recovery centers for substance use disorder, I continually remind them of why we go slow, the value of noticing what the experience is like on the inside. Many take quite a while to embrace the idea of self care and some do not seem to get it at all. A seed may be planted but I just don’t know. Another thing I repeat every class is the meaning of Namaste “the light in me sees the light in you.” That is also challenging for many. I can see in their eyes and their body language that perhaps they’ve never considered it an option to acknowledge themselves in a kind way or to think of themselves as having any kind of light within. Sad. That’s why this kind of yoga is necessary to treat the spiritual emergency that manifests as addiction, depression, etc.
Thanks Margaret, I don’t want to give the impression that some types of yoga are bad or that people who want them should be laughed at. That was my main concern. But as for your work, I totally agree with how you approach people struggling with trauma and addiction and that working to help them embody self-compassion and kindness is essential. kudos to you!
As an individual who has suffered from depression and addiction, plus physical limitations; methodical slower practice only made sense for me. However, language is probably the biggest barrier. Referring to “those people” hit me as judgy. It did make sense that where we are on our healing journey would affect the way we understand the class or workshop. And perhaps we’re not ready for that workshop. I was planning on the Neurobiology workshop and had difficulty with payment. So I stopped and doused if I should attend and the Universe said no. Another day…
Your strength and stamina are amazing. You keep staying true to your truth. THANK YOU for sharing your journey.
Thank Elissa, for the comment and for staying true to your journey as well. In terms of the context of this clip, I’d like to clarify the background of my comments. As a yoga teacher and yoga therapist since 1996, I have struggled for students in a market which holds up fast and/or difficult yoga as the goal of practice. But I’m not sure it’s confined to this market. The idea that harder poses are “more advanced” and that slower yoga equates with “beginner yoga” is ubiquitous. It’s only been very recently that neuroscience has begun to demonstrate the value of slower asana practices. That being said, for years I have fielded comments and feedback from clients/participants/other yoga teachers over the years including:
“I don’t see the value of what you do.”
“I’m outta here, I want to do real yoga.”
“Thank you for introducing me to yoga, I don’t come to your classes anymore because now I can do advanced yoga. But thanks for introducing me to it.”
“It’s nice that beginners have a teacher like you, but I have moved on to harder stuff.”
“It’s good that you help people start to get active, then once they are stronger, they can move on.”
And this is only from the people who actually open their mouths. I think most people with these thoughts just leave and don’t come back.
There is a dominant worldview behind this thinking that I go into in some detail in the course and my ebook, so there are important cultural reasons for it. Nevertheless, I have experienced a great deal of dismissal of my work. So it was from that place that these comments arose. Not with the intention of judging the people who hold these opinions for many valid, complex reasons, but wtih the enthusiasm that there is finally recognition for the value of slower practices. For me, it feels incredibly validating, and it’s been a really long time coming.