I always tell my yoga teacher training students that they don't need to look beyond their own struggles and experiences for pulling meaning into their classes. I tell them to let go of the idea that as teachers that they need to be perfect or 'other than'. I tell them to let go of the idea that there are emotions that are ok to feel and emotions that are not ok to feel and to just use whatever emotion they are currently experiencing as an opportunity to drop into their bodies and really feel. Yoga is a powerful tool. It is this amazing French restaurant with all these nuances and flavours and often, we come to our mats and we order the French fries. We hold so much emotion in our bodies and there is this profound opportunity to face our fears, to let go of the emotions that we are holding in our tissues and to embody a new pattern for ourselves.
So, as I headed to the studio this morning, I found myself thinking about FEAR. In Sanskrit there are two terms: sankalpa and vikalpa. Sankalpa is the intentions that we set for ourselves and the dreams that we imagine. Vikalpa is the core underlying beliefs that we hold deep in our psyche that tend to sabotage or undermine our intentions. And so I found myself thinking about fear and my own vikalpas that stem from fear. At some point, I think I confused being nice with giving away my power because I associated being powerful with taking power from someone else. At some point, I adopted the message that the most important things are to keep the peace, to be nice, to make sure that others are happy with you. But at their roots these messages stem from fear, fear that if I am assertive and direct, that if I speak out powerfully that this will cause others to be displeased with me, to not like me or that I might cause them pain or hurt their feelings.
And so, this is what I framed this mornings empowered flow yoga class around. I invited students to face their fears, to explore the things that they believe at their core and to inquire into what is holding them back. I asked them what they felt ready to let go of today and what new pattern they would like to see for themselves. It was so moving to hear students share about their own fears of insecurity, unworthiness and self doubt. Vulnerability is often portrayed as weakness, but the vulnerable quality in the room was anything but. It was powerful and emboldening to hear and see over and over again how these are human struggles and issues, that at our core we are not alone in our troubles.
As I pondered the theme of facing fears and letting go, I couldn't think of anything better to explore asana wise than sirsasana (headstand). At first glance, the pose looks like it is about strength and balance, which it is, but there is so much more that goes into the posture behind the scenes. The effect that it has on you emotionally and energetically is transformative and empowering. It quite literally turns your world upside down. I often see students kicking and perhaps flailing a little bit into the pose and like my french fry analogy, when we enter the posture this way, we miss the point and we lose out on the benefits the posture offers. It truly is the perfect pose for learning how to let go of fear and step into a new way of seeing things.
To see how I sequenced the class , read my next post on Sirsasana.
Stefani Wilton and Contributors
Finding beauty in the midst of joyous imperfection