Are we teaching Yoga for the good or for the worse?

Like most Yoga practitioners all over the world, my first encounter to Yoga came by way of a style that was physically demanding and emphasized strength, performance and alignment. I was taught to tuck in my tailbone, suck the belly in, keep the chest up and loop the shoulders back.

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Soon I was putting my body in a position that I could never have done before such as standing on my head, balancing on my arms, touching forehead on my knees. It didn’t take long for me to feel so much stronger and powerful. I felt tremendous pride in my changing shape and the birth of my new visible arm muscles.

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Every achievements in Yoga poses kept me wanting for something more. Fascinated by my own achievement in performing more and more advance postures, I lead my classes in that direction, desperately wanting to perform better than other teachers in term of poses.

To my recollection, fortunately such ferocious way of treating myself and my students, did not last more than a year.

Not too long thereafter, I realised besides the need to put too much effort to uphold an image of good Yoga teacher as such, my students too suffered due to my inability to understand others’ restriction in the body. In my physical practices in which I engaged this way, rather than helping my students to resolve their long standing physical pain and discomfort, seem to put them into more misalignment and tension in the body.

If I were to continue teaching this way, I was setting myself up for a painful fall.

Everyone is competing poses, and if I don’t join the race, where should I position myself and my studio?

I am not suggesting that Yoga is not helpful this way. Be it as it may, modern Yoga practice did contributed in transforming my weak body immediately to a stronger one. I became an over-aligned tensed person where I learned to hide my misaligned bones with more and more accumulated tension. I felt an immediate need to hold a false image of myself as someone who could carry good posture with tremendous effort that I was trying so hard to avoid facing. This could not be the fate of my Yoga practice.

I read tons and tons of Yoga books and one book finally make an honest and logic appearance to my practice.

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I am fortunate to have lived long enough to be able to encounter the solution to my insecurity, in my own practice and in my teaching. It is until now after I came to learn the technique of Critical Alignment Therapy/Yoga that I began to understand just how much something as seemingly ordinary and natural as the position of the bones affects the overall quality of my practice experience.

Knowing how to align the bones, it is finally safe to relax making it possible to trust the body’s natural goodness again.