Practicing honesty

I see a lot of dishonesty going on in yoga. I don’t mean this as a big name and shame piece. So not cool, and certainly not my place. I simply mean the petty dishonesties we all entertain in asana, in yoga (in life too, perhaps, but that’s a way bigger topic).

bound extended side angleIn last night’s Jiva class were we holding extended side angle for a while. Longer than I wanted to — my hips get easily sore at the moment (too much inactivity in the first part of the year) and although I think this pose is OK for my poor hamstring, I prefer to ease in and out of the pose rather than hold too long.

As I eased up I sneaked a peek around the room. I love to do this from time to time. I’m guessing you’re not supposed to focus-wise, but there’s something amazing about massed bodies all doing their thing. It always looks beautiful, whatever’s going on. And part of why I haul myself to class is to learn from others, sometimes their mere presence, and sometimes their form.

I was surprised by what I saw. Every single person I could see in the room was in the full bind. No modifications, no props. And to my untrained eye I’m not sure that all these bodies were best served doing the pose this way. There were a lot of back feet not rooted down suggesting that they were dumping weight on the front leg, there were lots of very closed chests pointing to the floor instead of open to the side wall. Breath sounded ragged from some quarters, and I could sense the clenched jaws even if I couldn’t see them. It’s what Hubby calls “the grim determination face” — he sees me practicing this a lot on and off the mat!

I mean no criticism to my fellow yogis. I wanted to be doing the pose that way myself. Well, part of me did. But the bit of me that’s attached to my hamstring wanted to make everything easier and safer. So I exhaled and sank back down into my pose, front arm crooked and resting on my knee, back arm raised high to the ceiling. Easy does it. I turned to look up at my fingertips. I broadened my shoulders, opened my chest, closed my eyes — and smiled in to myself. In that moment it felt good and right and honest. My feet were stable, weight balanced, my front arm wasn’t weight-bearing, instead my core was pulling in and upward and my raised hand was alive and energetic. This was it for me. No fancy bind. Not even deep enough to work with a block under my front hand. And I genuinely felt content just here, for this class at least.

So now today as I go about my life and my professional work I am trying to continue to practice this honesty and truth. There’s no point in finding that ease and lack of striving on the mat if I just leave it there.

Image credit: popsugar.com (http://media.onsugar.com/files/2010/01/04/5/192/1922729/5a8b5c91ea25c0fb_bound-extended-side-angle.jpg)

4 thoughts on “Practicing honesty

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  1. Beautifully put! Being honest about where you actually should be and maintaining integrity in that is so important and also such a challenge! I feel this a lot more in classes than in my home practice and it can be quite uncomfortable! I like to remind myself that it is my ego telling me a certain pose is the way to go and I have to quieten that voice down and listen to my body. On a dpside note my hips are always so sore too! study environment combined with waitressing and running = not very happy hip flexors!

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    1. it’s so not an upside that we share sore hips! any fave poses that give you a relief? I’d love to hear. my practice at the moment is all about maintaining integrity and learning to listen to the voice that speaks the truth, not the ego one. It’s encouraging (as always) to know that someone else has these voices too. I am starting to notice what a different quality I can feel in a pose if I really, honestly turn inwards. there’s some reward in that, even if it’s uncomfortable as you say. practice on!

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      1. I think I meant to write different note, not upside! Most definitely not an upside! Darn autocorrect 🙂 I am a huge fan of pigeon for my hips and cross legged forward fold, and half moon. Ooh and also king arthur pose! They are all really helpful for me. What do you do??
        Absolutely, so nice to know that I am not the ego voice is a thing for others too! And that the integrity voice is able to counterbalance it! As you say, practice on 🙂 xx

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  2. I actually assumed king arthur pose was a typo! but I thought I’d double check — and what do you know, it really is a pose! I’m working with pigeon and half moon, yes. I also love baddha konasana (seated and reclined). Lizard keeps coming up in class and that’s a real challenge for me — definitely a pose where the voices come up for me!

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