I got into a lengthy discussion a few days ago with some fellow yoga teachers about the value, or harm, or posting photos on social media of us in asana’s, 

especially those viewed as more advanced postures.

Is this vain pride, or is it a teaching tool???

There was a lot of open and honest dialog passed back and forth, but the verdict was… There is a wide range of opinion, but it is the INTENTION that determines if it is a valuable practice or not!  

My thoughts continued for several days, intrigued by the emotions and the insecurities that were all of a sudden tied up with the values and opinions of people that I love and respect in many ways. 

Considering I had recently posted pictures of me in yoga postures, I found myself evaluating myself, my practice, my teaching, and my own intentions… intentions to impress or celebrate- and are they really that different?? I spent two full days pondering this discussion and comparing it to another situation that forced me to evaluate my intentions… 

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—> I had a dear friend who I admired very much who taught me a great lesson about intention. We worked closely together in our church, our children played together, and her husband had often been a great help to our home and family. I admired her, her family, her story, and her strength. Our relationship started to strain and no matter how hard I tried, I could not understand what I had done to be the cause of her sudden distance from me and my family. Quite some time passed by and lots of friendships were damaged in the gory details that shall be spared for posterity sake 😉

One day, this dear friend called and came clean with the whole situation. I honestly barely remember the details, but I remember the gut wrenching feeling I had in my stomach when she said, “I just never could understand why a person like you would want to be friends with a person like me!!” 

I am going to say loud and proud that I was as confused as a person can possibly be. From MY perspective, this girl was absolutely amazing! So much talent and personality wrapped into the MOST compassionate heart I had ever seen. She was everything I was NOT! But, she could not see in herself what I saw. 

And from HER perspective, I was everything she was NOT! She had no idea the insecurities I carried with me, the traditions of my family or the needs that I masked each week. As she talked to me about some of the things that had given her grief and caused this rift, I was taken aback. Easily this conversation could have been a blood bath, two women upset, hurt, and emotional… But never before, and not since, have I experienced as much love as the two of us had for each other as we discussed this situation. As I listened to her, my heart softened to her thoughts and feelings…This experience taught me the true meaning of forgiveness in every sense of the word and I still count this gal as one of the most valuable friends in my garden of life <—

My intentions were never to minimize her talents and beauties, rather the intentions of my heart were to share what limited skills I had to offer. My intentions were never to threaten my friend, but rather, my hopes were to encourage, guide and support her… 

So why do I bring this up today and what does it have to do with YOGA???

Well, I love that the “Intention” was the word chosen by this group of fine yoga instructors…

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Intention is truly the BEST word to understand why a teacher might post a picture of them in a fancy posture or demonstrate an inversion in class…

but the difficult thing about intentions is that no one can ever TRULY know the intentions of someone else’s heart… 

It can’t be done…

I had never really understood why this is so important to me as a student or as a teacher until I started pondering this discussion and this life changing event from my past… 

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As a student, setting an intention will keep me in tune and in line with my own personal needs of that day, that moment! With an intention clearly identified in my heart, I know I won’t take my body anywhere that might violate what I need or want. With my OWN intention set, it will not matter (at least hopefully) what is happening on the red mat to my left or the grey mat in front of me. 

As a teacher, understanding that each student comes with their own intentions will allow me to gently guide, but never force, a practice or a posture on anyone. When I see the gal on the red mat in child’s pose for most of practice or the guy on the grey mat against the wall for balance postures, I can understand that they are feeding themselves and forgo the ego that might tell me that they simply do not like me or my class. 

Teaching has nothing to do with me, I am simply a guide. Each student comes to the mat with their own concerns, needs, desires, and insecurities. As a student, it is my job to honor where I am at the exact moment I find myself on my mat.

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As a teacher, it is my job to be present and hopefully prepare well enough that I can use what limited skills I have to encourage, guide, and support the student on their personal journey

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