What obstacles prevent you from getting the most out of your yoga practice? We asked our teachers what restrictions they most often see in their students. Some of their answers may surprise you. (Hint: it’s not about getting the pose right…)
From Kaitlin: The challenge I see the most in my students is pushing themselves too hard. Their ego steps in and tells them they must get their hand to the mat! When really they would benefit to modify or use a block for example. In my classes I try to stress the importance of honoring where they are in their practice because ultimately that is what will allow them the space to go deeper.
From Ann: From my perspective, one of the biggest obstacles I see is ego, and the desire for over-achievement that ego brings. I often see students who, despite precise instruction to find proper alignment, will throw it all aside to get their hand on the mat in trikonasana (for example). Everyone wants to be as accomplished as the best student in the room; that’s natural, but it’s not reality. One of my teaching theories is “alignment before depth,” and I encourage students that with practice in proper alignment, they will get there! If we can take ego out of the equation and approach our practice with a humble view, yoga’s many gifts will take root and blossom. The single bit of instruction I would give toward that goal is “forget about everyone else in the room and about your preconceptions for your practice, and take each pose as it comes to YOUR body.”
From Fay: I would say that what holds my students back the most, is the difficulty finding the time to practice consistently. Regular practice is really the only way to get the deep benefits of yoga, and the pressures in our lives make it very difficult to do this. My advice to them is the same advice I give to myself: be persistent in trying to work it into your day. Even a little bit of yoga can make a difference, if you do it regularly.
From Siri: Recently I am noticing even more that people come to practice to escape from their world or themselves. It takes more energy to ground them, to be present in the moment in the breath in the practice. We work on the poses they struggle with, to find a rooting and internal balance that will hopefully carry them in the world… real yoga , authentic movement and breath.
From Mid: What I see the most among my students is that they haven’t been exercising their bodies wisely – either too little exercise to keep their muscles strong and supple, or so much of one kind of exercise that things are out of balance. My advice to them, of course, is to add yoga. Whatever recipe you’re using for exercise in your life, a dash of yoga will help. It’s like salt in a meal…doesn’t take much, but it makes a real difference.
From Kim: I would say to have “faith” in the practice of yoga. Awareness is one of the gifts of a yoga practice…awareness of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies. This may seem indulgent at first to spend so much time on ourselves. We are doing this for our benefit and the benefit of our families, friends, and all beings. This awareness brings true and lasting happiness. Happiness transforms us within and revolutionizes our perspective on the world. When we open to our experience in our bodies we are more able to open to others.
My advice to students (and to myself) is to stay with the practice and especially when we do not feel like practice…for that is when the magic happens.