Part 1: “Am I doing this right?”
Over the early years of teaching yoga I am often asked by students “Am I doing this right?” I began to question what defined “right Yoga” and then in contrast what defined “wrong Yoga”. I feel it speaks to an ingrained cultural trajectory that values getting better or improving oneself – as if there is something at the beginning that even needs improving. This self improvement idea translates into Yoga practice as ‘better’ or ‘good’ by being defined by how complex or bendy one can be and is often accompanied by what one looks like while preforming Yoga postures. Practicing and achieving difficult or challenging postures becomes a marker of advancement.
For the first few years, I practiced what I now term achievement yoga, pushing to attain pretzel-like forms and practicing for hours on end. Being “good” at yoga was being “better at yoga”. I was constantly in some kind of physical pain and to be honest was overly virtuous about many aspects of life including what I ate.
My personal practice of Restorative Yoga and studying Ayurveda has had a profound influence on how my practice has evolved and the measure of “good” Yoga is now about cultivating a nourishing, grounded ease in being.
This approach is woven into my teaching practice: students often comment that they experience a friendly, encouraging and non-competitive culture. I do feel that a current and hopefully sustained wave of Yoga is about nourishing practice that is accessible, adaptable, conversational and felt.
Ultimately at the beginning and end of the day it is each to their own. My only encouragement is to find teachers that can support you cultivating a life long and responsive practice that feels healthy, insightful and kind.