Yoga teachers have an agenda. Beyond teaching classes, workshops or retreats, yoga teachers very much want their students to practice yoga outside of face-to-face learning.
Sometimes the agenda is hidden. Sometimes it is presented humorously, i.e., this preface from Prashant Iyengar that I once heard…”If accidentally you find yourself doing yoga practice one day….” (Hope, hope.) Unfortunately, sometimes, the yoga teacher’s message is heavy-handed, as in “you must” and “you should”.
I don’t know that any surveys have been done showing what percentage of classroom students practice on their own. I’d guess 15%. That means, hidden or not, our agendas are not getting fulfilled very well. Why is that?
One reason, I believe, is that students like being told what to do. It’s easier to keep one’s mind on purpose if it’s being directed by the teacher’s patter. Another reason is practice is just that – practice. It’s not perfect yet, and maybe it will never be. It’s halting, rough, unskilled. And, you have to motivate yourself. You have to plan what you’re going to do and schedule it, and who has enough time anyhow?
Most students who would like to practice and don’t, say they’re not disciplined, as though discipline were a congenital quality and not one that is cultivated.
I like the image – I think it comes from Jack Kornfield’s Path With Heart – of puppy training. To toliet-train the puppy, you start by putting the animal on a newspaper every time it makes a mistake. It’s a discipline that’s tried and trued, if you stay with it.
Similarly, our training is to put ourselves on the mat or meditation cushion, with great regularity, time after time until the habit of practising is ingrained.
Years ago, I wrote some guidelines for yoga practice that might encourage you to shake out your mat if it’s been gathering dust: Guidelines for your Practice
I’m not saying you should practice even though you probably know what I think 🙂