As part of my yoga teacher training it has been extremely important to build my own practice at home to ensure that I do poses and breathing as I learn in training. However, sometimes I lack motivation on my own or I find it challenging to set aside enough time each day to practice at home.
For some reason, I have no problem setting aside time to go to a yoga class at the Bodytree Studio throughout the week. What I find interesting about this is that often I hear people mention how difficult they find it to start attending a yoga class for the first time because people are not usually very social in a yoga class. Thus, new attendees may feel intimidated, especially if they think their level of yoga is “not that good”.
This is interesting on many levels. First, yes, it is indeed true that most yogis tend to keep to themselves in a yoga class. Not because they are unfriendly, but because by the very nature and philosophy of yoga, it is an introspective activity. The whole point of doing yoga is to lose the ego and sense of self. When we hold poses, we are about pushing ourselves to new limits, not really about comparing ourselves to others in the class – though this does happen. So, it is easy to see how it might look intimidating to someone just starting or trying to make friends through a studio class.
Also, let me highlight again that yoga is not about comparing our ability to do poses with others. However, inevitably, a new attendee or even beginner to yoga will feel self-conscious about his/her skill at holding particular poses. In a mixed level class it can often feel as if no one is actually a beginner, but the truth is that everyone is always a beginner no matter how long one has been practicing yoga. It is a practice and each day is a new day. Therefore, there should be no comparisons that someone seems more flexible or more advanced than someone else. It is our egos that get in the way of this and create a sense of isolation in a class.
Finally, I would like to remind us of the meaning of yoga. It is union. Union with others humans, union with the world around us from the animals, plants, earth, universe and union within ourselves from our bodies and our minds. It is for this reason that I prefer to do yoga in a class than at home. It is a feeling of union with others. Although we may create a sense of solitude in our yoga practice – even in a class – there is unity in the flow of practice that we do together as one human race spreading peace and love to the world.