Last weekend, when Christina was at Southtown Yoga, she offered her perspective on practicing many different styles of yoga. She mentioned that she enjoys attending classes from all different styles: Baptiste Power Vinyasa, Bikram, Iyengar, Ashtanga Vinyasa, etc. She joked that she goes to classes of different styles of yoga to cross train, in a certain sense. Some styles offer long holds or do lots of super bendy poses, others are all about endurance, etc. She laughed and said she really wants to be "good" at all styles of yoga, so she can attend any class and have a good time. As usual, Christina was being completely honest and open about this. It was funny... but also so relatable. The first time I went to a Bikram class in San Diego, I made sure not to tell them I was a yoga teacher. I knew it was going to be way different than what I was used to and I didn't want to "suck" at it. Its sounds pretty stupid to admit that, but it is the truth. The thing about the truth is that it doesn't go away. I could try and pretend I wasn't nervous or didn't want to do well, but the that wouldn't be the truth. And, even if I pulled off that vibe on the outside, inside I would still feel nervous and crappy. See, the truth is there even when I tried to cover it up.
So, yesterday my word of the day in yogahour (aka theme) was Integrity. When I looked up the meaning of the word before class, one of the definitions I found had to do with being honest. That struck a cord for me. In the recent past, it has become extremely obvious to me that being honest is much less work than the alternative. This applies in so many ways. Take the asana practice, for example... my right hamstrings have been tweaked for months. MONTHS! I am one of those flexible types who sometimes forgets to engage my muscles when I stretch. Result = pulled hamstring attachments. Its not a severe injury. Its the kind that annoys you, but doesn't go away. The truth is, I need to rest in order for my hamstrings to heal. But that's not what I've been doing. I've been trying my best to engage like crazy when practicing in hopes that it will just "go away." Well, its not going away. This type of injury will never go away unless I do what I am supposed to do (rest) and let it heal. Is it really that hard to rest?! YES it is! That's a very practical example of how holding high integrity can be as simple or challenging as I make it. My hamstrings are tweaked, I need to rest instead of keep practicing hard. Seems simple, but often times what can be more challenging is ignored. Like, being honest with myself.
Take this whole New York Times article, for example. Its titled, How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body. The entire yoga community has had really strong reactions to it. I agree with both sides. Yes, yoga can wreck your body if you are practicing without good alignment technique. However, if you have strong body awareness and find a well-trained teacher, yoga is great for your body. Not to mention your mind and soul. Its all about taking responsibility for yourself and practicing with high integrity. And if someone is new to yoga, finding reputable resources to learn is key. Pushing too hard or progressing too fast is not the yoga's fault. Its the person doing the poses who holds that responsibility. That's my two cents on that.
Sometimes its way harder to actually face the truth. When I look at my past, I can identify several situations where I worked a lot harder at covering up what was real, instead of facing the repercussions of my actions. That may make me sound like I used to be a terrible person, but that's not how I see it. I was unsure of myself and was searching for approvals in the wrong places. As a result, I tried really hard to be anyone and everyone but myself. And guess what I learned... no matter where you go, there you are. Today, I am at a much different point in my life. I try to live my life with high integrity. It took a lot of practice to be more true and honest. But, like anything else that you practice often, it gets easier with every attempt. I just tell myself the truth over and over again. And everything else is becoming more clear.
Moral of the story - Maintaining a high standard of integrity definitely takes practice and awareness. But to my experience, its worth it. Its more work up front, but less work in the long run. Plus, I just feel better knowing I am living, breathing and experiencing this life with Integrity.
The sequence below is from the yogahour class I taught yesterday. Its a 60 minute practice, and go ahead, crank up the music and sweat!