Today, I woke up in pain, lots of it, after attending a second yoga class at a new studio. I’d felt hopeful and proud that I was committing again to regular practice, even if I was a little skeptical about whether the studio was a good fit. Because here’s the catch: because of previous injuries, and due to years of benign neglect, as I pursed academic training and attended to many things, but not, in particular, my body, I still forget (or deny) that my body needs extra care and support. This process requires loads of patience, and self-compassion, and also, ideally, a skilled teacher who understands my struggles, who doesn’t look at my body and quickly say: “You can do that…” or “you should…”
The best teachers are those that are invested in our process, not just in making sure we attain a pose or goal. They meet us where we are at, and provide encouragement, especially when the going is hard. Sometimes, we need them to help us become more grounded and strong, before we are ready to take the next step. Sometimes, we need them to stay with us in our place of vulnerability and fear, so that we feel a little less alone along the way. In our society, we’re often congratulated for appearing self-sufficient or independent, but less often so for seeking help. Even if pulling back from something that might over-extend us, or asking for more support, is the wisest, bravest (and hardest) thing to do.
While each of us identifies those wise, skilled teachers to help us along our journeys, we can also practice standing by ourselves. Standing BY ourselves – as in, not alone, but instead, befriending: Acknowledging and Allowing our experience to be what it is, whether it is easy or hard; not Over-Identifying with the story of what this “means” about ourselves or our possibilities; and offering heaps of Self-compassion, along the way.