For a long time I’ve pondered the questions of what is yoga, what is that I do when I practice yoga and what should I be doing. So, I was happy to encounter some wisdom via ‘The Yoga Lunchbox‘ blog this week which has helped sort these questions.
Kara-Leah Grant of TYL interviewed Jennifer Allen about the topic of safe and sustainable yoga, an approach to which she is committed. Jennifer is the founder of Jayayoga of New Zealand, and she has coined the phrase ‘the dissipation of expectation’. That is, the letting go of our expectations about what we should be doing on the yoga mat and instead giving ourselves permission to practice in exactly the way that best serves us in the moment.
As someone who was originally trained in the Iyengar yoga method, these words would have sounded heretical to me long ago. But that was a couple of decades ago. I’ve learned from injuries and medical conditions to be adaptable and intuitive about what and how I practice now. To do what serves me best at this time in my life. This is what I hope I’m passing on to those I teach: to know themselves and to practice yoga that will sustain them for life.
Here are few quotes from Ms. Allen. I hope that you will take time to watch the interview that I’ve attached.
I can’t stress enough those two big words: safe and sustainable. It has become such an important part of my own practice and now such an integral part of my teaching journey.
Why aren’t we looking inward at sustainability in terms of our bodies and our ability to have this experience of yoga? Not only in a way that’s functional and accessible for our daily life but in a long term sustainability that I means I can do my yoga practice until I’m one hundred years old.
I’ve witnessed so many instances, in practice and in teaching, of overuse of the body and injury, and taking more than what we should in the moment, rather than just opening ourselves up to receiving whatever is there.
I can thank goodness that there were no sustained injuries that came from my yoga practice. What this has become about for me is allowing people to be a witness to the sensory experience in the body rather than coming to the mat as another thing on the To Do list ‘Do yoga. Do it hard.’