Are you "good" at yoga?

There’s a yoga studio that opened up a few years back in my home town in Florida. I immediately thought it was the best thing to ever happen to our town, with classes running around the clock everyday of the week, and a donation-based business model. The man behind it all? A great guru, Scott. I’ve done yoga classes all over the world, but there’s nothing like going home to take a class with him. The last time I did, (I only get to take them a few times a year), he made me cry, made me giggle, made me shake, humbled me while he taught me, all in one hour.

Apparently I’m far from the only one who believes Scott’s classes are invaluable. The room was filled completely wall to wall with scattered bodies, hardly able to tell whose arm and leg was whose as they crisscrossed over one another. In the beginning of class while we were warming up to some Vinyasas and I was admittedly observing everyone’s cool patterned yoga pants, personal mats, lean muscles and limber poses, amazed at how much larger his audience had grown since the last time, he said to us, “Just because you’re flexible doesn’t mean you’re spiritually enlightened.” A giggle from everyone.

I once read a study that said people tend to have a greater sense of self-importance and bottom-line, an inflated ego after practicing yoga. You feel better about yourself, proud, maybe even a little more enlightened with little philosophical tidbits taught between the sequences. But Scott was so right. Yoga is so much deeper than being able to do the poses, and is not just about being flexible (as most consistent practicing yogis might realize). It’s everyone’s own journey. It’s about spinal alignment, self discipline, awareness of the body, and yes, there’s strength and flexibility.  Yoga even helps bring awareness to our egos, allowing us to recognize them and let them go, but it shouldn’t be feeding them.  Yoga is not something to be “good” at, it is simply a practice.

An hour of hard-to-hold poses, twenty minutes of breathing and a long Shivasana later, Scott quietly left us in the room while we all laid silent.  It was the longest Shivasana I had ever taken.  Feeling lighter, each limb of my body tingling with sensation, a clear mind, I arose to see the great teacher was out of the room.  Yet another thought he left us with to ponder.

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