For me, yoga offers a moment of stillness in a life of perpetual motion. It is about letting go of my roles as instructor, mother, woman, whatever, and slowing down. It is time to sit with myself. To allow my responsibilities to temporarily drift away. In these moments of stillness I can hear my own voice. I intrinsically know and trust my body to move as it needs to. To sit in stillness when it needs to. To do whatever it is that my soul needs. To move freely and without expectation.
I have NEVER been the yogi that comes in with a plan and sticks to it. I have tried. It hasn’t ever felt natural or right for me. Whether I am practicing or teaching, I have learned to take a few moments to slow down, to listen, to feel, and then to move by feel. If I get drawn into my typical non-yoga pattern of over-thinking, I close my eyes and feel the room. It is in these moments of letting go of expectation that I KNOW what to do; what to move; how to cue.
For me, THIS is yoga. Letting go of what “should be”, how things “ought to look”, and allowing the practice to unfold. Organic. Unplanned. Imperfectly perfect.
This is my yoga.
As a type-A Scorpio, finding (and accepting) this path has most certainly not been easy. When I started out my yoga journey as a student, I was drawn to hot yoga, power yoga, Bikram Yoga. Structure. Hard work. Sweat and determination. I only attended Yin and relaxation classes as a “last resort” – if I NEEDED to get my yoga in and there wasn’t anything else on the schedule. When I became a teacher, I taught hard. I drove my students hard. I was a bit of a loveable-yoga-tyrant.
As I have grown both as a practitioner and a teacher of yoga, I have had to let go. To let go of expectations of myself and of my students. There is rarely a posture in my classes that doesn’t afford an option. I don’t teach to a peak pose. In fact, I don’t often know what a class sequence will look like until it begins to unfold itself for me.
If you haven’t yet figured out your “why”, the next time you unroll your mat, take a few moments before you start to move to let go. To just sit and feel where you need to take your practice. To trust.
Denise Darby is an active mother of four, an athlete and an experienced yoga teacher and yoga therapist. She practices and teaches various forms of yoga from Hot Power classes to sweet, soft yin and restorative. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and helping others find their own path to connectedness.