How The Grinch Found Yoga (Again!)

How The Grinch Found Yoga (Again!)

Inspired by Dr. Seuss, a true yogi.
Featured on elephant journal.

When last we left off in the Yogaville district,
The Grinch had found yoga; his heart optimistic.
Dedicated yogi he was, trekking to town every day.
Heading straight to the studio, never going astray.
One day in particular as he walked in with his mat,
A new flyer was posted, he stopped in his tracks.
With eyes growing wider, he lost his Grinch cool.
In bold letters, he read: Yoga Teacher School!

Then the teacher strolled in, the breathing started.
The practice began, his effort half-hearted.
His mind so distracted, excitement barely contained.
He remained calm on the outside. The inside he strained.
And the more the Grinch thought of this whole teaching thing,
The more the Grinch knew he must do this TRAINING!
And the longer he pondered, with wheels endlessly turning,
His head grew bigger, his ego mindlessly yearning.
“Why, for two years now I’ve come to this space!
I know I can do it, I can take over this place!
I will be the best teacher this town’s ever known.
From miles they will come, they will build me a throne!”

So with focus and agenda, his journey began.
He studied and practiced, fine-tuned his grinchy plan.
Bought all the books, memorized all the right words.
Practiced the sequence, his goal never deferred.
And the day finally came, his certificate arrived.
He gave his dog a sly smile, and then a high five.
Of course, first on his list, doing what all legit teachers do,
He opened a Twitter account and a Facebook page too.
He took a few selfies; upside down in the snow.
Posted on Instagram with requisite yogic style prose.
He filmed YouTube videos, with his dog Max as his pupil.
It took only one day, and his followers quadrupled!

This was still not enough for his yogi star scheme,
The final touch was added, a completion of his dream.
A new studio he began building on top of Mount Crumpit.
He called it Grinch Yoga. Well, that pretty much summed it.

As he stood on his mountain, looking down at the town.
His shifty eyes landed on his final takedown.
Watching the yogis, the tall and the small,
Bustling to class, this would not do at all!
So just for good measure in the middle of the night,
The Grinch snuck into his old studio and stole everything in sight!
He took all of the mats! The candles for lighting!
The sign on the outside! His emotions delighting!
All the pictures on the wall! All the cubbies in the hall!
All the lights that were hanging! He left nothing installed!
He stole all of the schedules and workshop brochures.
Then he snatched his teacher’s notes, just to be sure!
And then, just in case, all that wasn’t sufficient,
He tweeted cruel words. A clearly grinchish decision.

And before you could say #yogaeverydamnday,
His new home was completed; Grinch Yoga here to stay.
He bounded through the door, new clothes on display.
Prepared to teach his first class, without any delay.
His teacher’s words mastered, his yoga jam cued.
Exuberant and giddy to the utmost magnitude.
With great confidence and ease, he patiently waited.
His ego, of course, ten sizes inflated!

He waited, and waited and waited all day.
But not ONE yoga student came, not ONE,
Through the doorway!
And there the Grinch remained, puzzling for hours.
No sense to be made. Why he had even planted fake flowers!

As he sat on his mat in deep contemplation,
He heard a soft noise, a humming vibration.
He looked out of his window; eyes followed the sound.
He shook in surprise as he gazed down at the crowd.
And he shook, and he shuddered at this most disturbing of views!
In the yoga studio he had emptied, the yoga class grew!
They twisted and turned and chanted away.
Nothing the Grinch did had ruined their day!

“No, it can’t be! I’ve done everything right!
Photos and followers! Hashtags and websites!
New floors and fresh paint, in perfect location.
Thousands I spent on this yoga education!”

And then what the Grinch did, without even thinking,
He packed up old Max, crept to town, his pride shrinking.
He walked into the studio, well, some would say slunk.
But all would agree his high hopes had been sunk.
He looked at his teacher, Yogi Lyn Lou,
With questioning eyes, heavy heart, feeling blue.

And she tilted her head, raised an eyebrow.
Told him to sit and to get rid of his frown.
And with a slight wink, she proceeded to speak:

You can’t steal yoga, within is what you seek.

It’s not a fancy pose. It’s not rhyming prose.
It’s not a personal platform, for a Cirque du Soleil show.
Not matters the location or the color of the walls.
The flowers planted. The track lights installed.

Doesn’t matter the words strategically placed.
What matters are actions executed with grace.
Followers will follow, and likers will like.
But none of this matters if you behave with dislike.

For students to emerge you must teach from your heart.
It’s inside of you too; it just needs a jumpstart.
The only way out is to go through, the only way through is to go in.
You must do the hard work, stop believing your own spin.
Some days will be easy; others will not.
(On those days two words: tequila shot!)
It’s an on ongoing process this self-study thing,
But in the end, will be discovered the best kind of bling.
The glow from the inside will be quite distinct,
When your intentions and actions are completely in sync.

And the knowledge you search for, you already possess.
At this moment it is there, it just needs to be accessed.
Your purpose discovered. Clearly defined.
It is here my Grinch friend, you will find peace of mind.

And this wisdom you have cannot be shanghaied.
No matter what happens. Though, some will surely try.
Oh, they will try! Oh yes! They will TRY, TRY, TRY, TRY!
But when they go low it will teach you instead how to FLY!
Keep the focus on you and others won’t matter.
Silence you will find, trumps the meaningless chatter.

And it won’t be about selfies or how many likes.
Your followers on Facebook or a playlist contrived.
It won’t be something learned in two hundred hours.
Your silent voice inside contains all your power.
And it won’t be what’s trendy or Instagram fame.
Or the RYT letters you attach to your name.
Find the teacher inside, and the students will appear.
Not always an easy task. Trust yourself and don’t compare.

So, back to his mat went the Grinch and his Self.
Old Max snoozing soundly in his bed on the shelf.
His playlist deleted, his pride feeling cheated.
But the worst part of it all, his spirit depleted.
He got out of his head and started to work in.
It didn’t take long for the transformation to begin.
He found his way back to where he began.
And slowly let go of his grinchy yoga plan.
His ego grew weaker, his monkey mind meager.
His compassion expanded, mindfulness was eager.
His goals disappeared, replaced with intention.
And in this still space, he found his connection.

And what happened then? A revelation some say.
The door opened up, students walked in and stayed.
They laid down their mats, spaced barely an inch.
They all stood together, surrounding the Grinch.
And the Grinch looked around, not believing his eyes.
They finally opened up as he slowly realized…
“This teaching it seems doesn’t come from a book,
Not words that are mimicked or how a studio looks.
It’s not perfect alignment or music that rocks.
Not mastering poses or using five different props.
It’s not how you speak, or the way that you walk.
It’s in owning your truth and walking the talk.”

Then, the Grinch found his voice, and also his heart.
(A bit shaky at first, but an impressive good start.)
He guided the practice; they breathed and they flowed.
Compassion and honesty always in tow.

In unison, they moved. Together sang the last OM….
And there in his Self, the Grinch finally found home.

Love Dr. Seuss? Love Yoga? Buy Lyn’s book, Om, the Poses You’ll Do!
Version 2
Available on Amazon.com

Yoga Teachers and Studio Owners: Let’s be sure to practice asteya, when sharing please give credit to the author.
Photo Credit: Sarah_Ackerman/Flickr

SaveSave

It’s Just Yoga

IMG_4905 - Version 2

Read elephantjournal.com version here!

Many are doing it. Oodles are practicing it. Plenty are teaching it.

Yoga is far trendier today than when I started practicing almost 20 years ago. Though, I would argue that the part of yoga I found to be so life-changing is not necessarily the same part of yoga that is attracting the masses today. I sometimes think that in this ginormous industry yoga has evolved into over the years, that particular component has some how lost its way. But that’s just me.

Just to clarify, this is not another article about what real yoga is, isn’t or should be.

I honestly believe that only we can determine for ourselves what we want to gain from it. And in turn, that will ultimately determine what we get out of it. And if a person chooses to approach yoga as just exercise, then that’s their decision.

But isn’t it possible to still do both? What if we not only used yoga as a path towards fitness but also used it as a doorway towards mindfulness…

What if when we stepped on our yoga mat we understood that touching our toes is about more than whether we can touch our toes.

What if we questioned more often why we do a pose, and worried less often why we can’t.

What if how we get into a pose is more important than how far we can go once we are there.

What if we paid more attention to how our movements affect others than how are movements look to others.

What if we killed ourselves with kindness rather than insensibly beat up our bodies.

What if we spent just as much time on healing the pain when our heart has been stabbed as we do straining our muscles so we can feel the burn.

What if we didn’t just practice yoga on the mat, but off the mat too.

What if we ceased defining our yoga practice by how we appear, and instead by how we behave.

What if we discontinued all the empty talk, and started to lead by example with a meaningful walk.

What if we put more importance on aligning our heart with our actions than we do with stacking our knees over our heels.

What if instead of repeating words because they sound good, we speak words because they are true.

What if we put an end to believing in our own bullshit so that we can start to clearly see the facts.

What if we accepted that we will all fuck up and sometimes act like an asshole. But we don’t have to be a fucked up asshole.

We can be this: strong and confident.
Without being this: arrogant and callous.

What if we understood that it’s no one else’s responsibility to make us happy, and instead worked on cultivating our own contentment.

What if our beliefs and truths were in sync with our actions and words.

What if we agreed that not all relationships were meant to last forever and it is possible to move on gracefully, rather than spitefully.

What if we appreciated that what is best for someone else might not be best for us, and there is no one to blame.

What if telling others what they feel and need was less important than listening closely to what we say and why.

We used these words less: authentic and unyogic.
We lived these words more: real and raw.

What if we discerned and didn’t judge.

What if we made a pact that when my purpose and your purpose are not in tune we can dance to our own rhythm and still share the floor.

What if a prerequisite for balancing on two hands was being able to stand grounded in our own true self.

What if we didn’t just do yoga, but actually tried to practice too.

What if we preferred a yoga mind over a beach body.
What if we practiced a soul search rather than just a seated twist.
What if we meditated on life rather than fixated on things.
What if our intention was in how we go rather than in what we get.

What if we transformed the world rather than performed a pose.

It’s how we think.
The words we choose.
It’s how we act.
Trusting our internal cues.

It’s a discipline not an art.
It’s an attitude from the heart.

It’s just mindfulness.
It’s just yoga.

Secret Single Behavior of a Yoga Goddess: kombucha, kale and selfie flare

IMG_0837 3

Secret Single Behavior (or SSB): (noun) a habit or activity that one might like to indulge in when home alone. (Of course, you don’t need to be single – it’s just stuff that goes down when no one’s around).

Yoga Goddess (or YG): (noun) any woman from Western civilization who teaches yoga for a living.

I read that definition in an article written by a wise woman a few years back, and it stuck. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t like a job title with the word goddess in it?

Secret Single Yoga Goddess Behavior (or SSYGB): (noun) those things YGs do when they are not working. (You know, the stuff that goes down when our students aren’t around.)

Now, before some of you start hating, I am a yogi and I try to live my yoga. Walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Occasionally stumbling along the way. I am not talking about someone who preaches but doesn’t practice. I am actually talking about those who try to practice each and every yama and niyama (yoga’s ethical principles) every single day of the year. But there are always those stereotypical ideas about us. The misconceptions of how we spend our time when not teaching. Usually things that really aren’t relevant to whether we are a good yoga teacher or “real yogi.” And maybe SSYGB is less about what we do and more about what we might not do. And while as YGs we should always aspire to live our yoga, we are not only yoga. It’s not all kombucha, kale and kumbaya.

Of course, I can’t speak for all the YGs out there, but here is a small glimpse into my SSYGB, my world out of the studio:

  • As I just mentioned, kombucha is not for me. Nor are juice cleanses and endless cups of green tea. If you love that stuff, rock on. I prefer my coffee in the morning and my wine at night. I will sip Wild Turkey on occasion. As a SYG, I have been known to hang out at a bar every now and again. My shot of choice, tequila. Two shots…well, no good ever comes from that. And that’s all I am saying about it.
  • Yes, I fit the vegetarian stereotype. I got the whole ahimsa, non-violence thing going on. But wagons were built to fall off. I don’t cook, so it is usually take out for me. My freezer contains exactly three items: vodka, ice cream and ice. As long as I have coffee, half and half, and cat food (for my cat, not me, FYI) in good supply, I can survive days without going out. Oh, and wine too. Let’s not forget that. I like my pizza and french fries, and the endless supply of homemade baked goodies my friends make for me – in moderation, of course. But we all need to indulge sometimes. You can keep your kale, if I can keep my gluten.
  • I do not spend my time off taking yoga selfies. (Except the one for this article, of course). I rarely #stopdropandyoga. I also do everything I can to avoid following anyone on Instagram who posts a new pose #everydamnday. Post a high quality sarcastic quote, a cute cat or anything from Jared Leto, and I be liking. MY yoga challenge is trying to find ways to avoid seeing Instagram #yogachallenge postings. However, I will say this, you Instagram celebs get a whole new respect from me. How do you do it? I spent about five hours on just that one shot. Talk about practicing tapas – burn baby burn. It would take me another hour to just try and type all those cute hashtags on my tiny little keyboard to post with it. You are all #instacool.
  • I don’t spend all day practicing yoga. (Well, I “practice” it all day long. But I mean the actual physical kind on the mat). Sometimes after being at my studio every day for five days straight, the last thing I want to do is take my mat out. (I might want to pull some hairs out, though.) The first thing I want to do is feel my ass on the couch and a drink in my hand. I wear many masks to run my studio. Mental and physical exhaustion sets in, and I can be pretty lazy when I am off. Case in point, the pizza I mentioned above. I store my empty pizza boxes in the oven. The recycling bin at my condo complex is THREE buildings away. (Remember, I don’t cook, so I never use my oven. Have no fear all you Fire Marshals out there!) I look at it more as brahmacharya – energy conservation – why make five trips when I can do it in just one? Makes good sense to me. The boxes fit quite neatly and are out of sight in the oven, so there’s your saucha – cleanliness. And that, my friends, is the art of killing two yoga principles with one stove.
  • I do not spend all my time talking about yoga. Well, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration…yoga does come up in my conversations probably a bit more than the normal non-yoga goddess person. But often it’s to make fun of it. Yes, I am a firm believer that it is good to laugh at yoga. (This article for instance…THAT’S FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE NOT GOTTEN THE JOKE YET. Yes, I was yelling). Yoga is life changing stuff and sometimes we need to lighten up about it. Especially if we are trying to practice it. But mostly my girlfriends and I talk about sex, saving turtles, getting old, solving world hunger, girl problems (the struggle is real), my online dating tribulations (that’s for comedy relief after the whole world hunger conversation), how it would be so much better if women ran the world, and who we want to punch in the face, but of course won’t because, you know, all that yoga and non-violence crap we are supposed to be practicing. (I think that’s probably the point in the conversation where we start mocking yoga).
  • Now, as mentioned before, being single is not required for your normal secret single behavior. Nor is it for SSB of a yoga goddess. All of the above can be “practiced” single, attached or otherwise engaged. But, I am single, so here goes…believe it or not, the last thing I want to do is date a yoga dude. I don’t know what it is, but most of the ones I have met were just way too intense for me – and I refer back to the need to “lighten up” and the “yoga crap” mentioned above. (Disclaimer: I said “most,” not all. Just to clarify, before you yoga dudes get your yoga shorts all in a bunch.) Too much of a good thing perhaps? I prefer someone to be yang to my yin. Sthira to my sukha. Hard to my soft. (OK people, get your minds out of the gutter, you yoga peeps know what I’m talkin’ about). Maybe this is where I should give another shout out to all you Fire Marshals…

So you ask, what is the point to all of this? Well, I guess it’s this. I am just like everyone else. Simply trying to do the best I can. Hopefully, because of my yoga practice, maybe I do that with a little more awareness than I would have if I had not found yoga.

We all have our jobs, some of us are lucky enough to have not only careers we love, but careers that are true extensions of our self. I am one of those. But no matter how much we love our job or live our job, we all need to sometimes let our hair down and take our yoga pants off.

Whether I throw out my pizza boxes that day or the next week, or drink wine instead of green tea, doesn’t determine whether I am a good person or not. I will tell you what does – my actions, my words, how I treat others, my intentions behind what I do. Do I succeed all the time? No. But without yoga, I would most likely fail more often than not.

And I don’t think this makes me less of a yoga teacher either. I think it makes me a realistic one. Perhaps I don’t fit into the “typical” stereotype with some things, but I won’t pretend to be something I am not – secretly or not so secretly. I am fairly confident that many of my students already know quite a few of the aforementioned things. (And if not, now they do.)

Honesty trumps hummus. (And there’s another one of those damn yamas popping up again.)

So you see, it’s not about kombucha, kale or selfie flare. It’s about the yamas, the niyamas and perhaps knowing a quote or two from the Dalai Lama. Can you like and do those three things AND practice the yamas and niyamas? Absofuckinlutely. (And if you haven’t picked up on that yet, I recommend going back to the part about lightening up and getting the joke). Yoga Gs don’t need to own mala beads to practice mindful deeds. But ya can…

A few of my yogi friends and I like to joke that we do yoga so we don’t kill people. And while obviously the reality is not that extreme, I do know without yoga I would be a lot worse off.

And this is what else I know: I know that when I would rather run away screaming from an extremely difficult situation, yoga has helped me stay and see it through. I know that I have absolutely no control over other people’s actions, but I do have control over mine. I know that most of the time more force creates more resistance, and though usually the harder choice, by letting go just enough the universe has a funny way of working things out – the way they should.

And because of my practice I know that I am enough, and looking for someone or something else to complete me would be an endless search.

I know that I am totally, abundantly flawlessly flawed, and sometimes the best thing I can do is just try to keep it real. And get my ass off the couch and back on the mat…where I can keep practicing it all.

I also know that life is pretty messy, and sometimes #whenyogajustisntenough, well there is always that bottle of vodka in the freezer…

#SSYGB
read elephant journal version….

How The Grinch Found Yoga

“An open heart is an open mind” – Dalai Lama

How The Grinch Found Yoga_part oneFeatured on elephantjournal.com.
Inspired by Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas:

Every yogi in Yogaville liked yoga a lot….
But the Grinch, who lived just west of Yogaville, did not!
The Grinch hated yoga! The whole yoga culture!
Now, please don’t ask why. It would only be torture.
It could be his mind was closed a little too tight.
It could be, perhaps, that his breath was too slight.
But I think that the most likely reason could be,
He kept his heart protected, not allowing it to be free.

Whatever the reason, his heart or his mind.
He stood there that evening, not feeling very kind.

Staring into the studio, with the look of displease,
At the warm yoga bodies moving with such ease.
For he knew every yogi was perfecting their pose,
While looking their best in their fancy yoga clothes.
“And they’re standing on their hands,” he said with despair,
“Without a single strand moving, not one! In their hair!”

Their photos, their quotes, their Instagram postings!
The kale and kombucha, the juice cleanse hostings!
And soon, oh so soon, they would be yoga singing!
The sound of their OMs! Well, it would have his ears ringing!

Then he got an idea! A crazy idea!
This “unyogic” Grinch got a crazy idea!
The Grinch held his breath, not knowing what was in store.
He walked up to the studio, and opened the door…

The Grinch came from the outside and found his way in.
Which is often how many of us also begin.
He stepped onto a mat, without expectation.
The evolution was slow, but he found meditation.

And there on the mat, released of all drama.
The Grinch discovered more than only one of the yamas.
It just takes some presence, a trust in the self.
In mindful action, the Grinch found some wealth.

And the Grinch, with his grinch hands touching his toes,
looked around in amazement, thinking, “How could it be so?”

“It came without judgment! It came without goals!”
“It came without challenges, selfies or ‘no’s’!”
And he sat down a few moments, till his breath became longer.
His mind became quiet, his inner voice grew stronger.
“Maybe yoga,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a pose.”
“Maybe yoga… perhaps…is an exercise for the soul.”

And what happened then? Well…in Yogaville they say,
That the Grinch’s trapped heart broke open that day!
And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite such a mess,
His mind opened up too and he found yoga bliss.
And he stepped on his mat. Both feet firmly at home!
And he, he himself! The Grinch sang the last OM!

Love Dr. Seuss? Love yoga? Buy Lyn’s book, Om, the Poses You’ll Do!
Version 2

Available on Amazon.com

Yoga Teachers and Studio Owners: Let’s be sure to practice asteya, when sharing please give credit to the author.
Photo Credit: Sarah_Ackerman/Flickr

SaveSave

The Practice of Teaching: 3 more things every yoga teacher should know

IMG_2601

Read the Elephant Journal version HERE!

If practicing yoga is about more than just the pose, then so is teaching yoga.

And while we can be given tools to help us learn to instruct, teaching is something that will come from knowledge that is already inside of us.

When we first start teaching, it’s easy to get lost in the instructing and forego the teaching.

Instructing requires us to have a strong working knowledge of the body and a firm grip on proper alignment. The surface elements of the practice. All very important.

Teaching comes from the wisdom we have gained from our own personal experiences and our willingness to break open enough to be willing to share. It is not something that can be learned.

Instructing comes from the head. Teaching comes from the heart.

Often in my classes after giving detailed alignment of a pose, I then tell my students to just let all of that go. Stop trying to do the pose and allow yourself to just be in the pose.

When we step into the classroom to lead a class, it’s not much different than stepping onto our own mat to practice. Try not to get lost in the doing….

1. Don’t Compromise Your Foundation:

I constantly tell my students in class that the pose will only be as strong as the foundation they build it on. And nothing is worth sacrificing a calm, steady foundation. The same is true for teaching.

In asana practice it might start with a smooth, flowing breath. A stable, sturdy connection to the ground.

Our teaching foundation develops from what keeps us personally coming back to the mat. Day after day. That which we connect to.

There can be an overwhelming amount of information to be absorbed, and then expected to be applied during the training process. One of my first teachers told us to take what makes sense and throw the rest away. I hold onto that to this day. I stopped trying to teach the right way, and began teaching my way. The way that feels right for me.

This is found deep inside, an intuitive nature that speaks from the heart. Our truth.

Our teaching is only as strong as the foundation we build it on. Nothing is worth compromising this. No class, no studio, no job. And the fact is, when we let our authenticity shine through, all of those things will come.

Find your truth, the students will hear.

2. Focus more on the In and less on the Out:

One of the most challenging things I still find to this day when teaching, is to get students to let go of the outward focus of the practice (pose), and put more effort to understanding and beginning with the inward focus (breath). I try to emphasize if they trust the inner process, the outer process will begin to happen.

And as a newer teacher, it’s sometimes easy to get caught up with the same thing. Fearful of boring our students, we end up spending large amounts of time creating new sequences, interesting transitions or finding more challenging poses. Instructing begins to trump teaching.

The reality is, holding a student’s attention and keeping it interesting comes from teaching what is inside of us. Speaking directly from our hearts, our experiences. Channeling those experiences to make them relevant to our students, without making it about ourselves.

At my lowest points, I have been able to make the greatest connections with my students. I have walked into a classroom more times than I would like to remember thinking “how can I possibly hold my students up, when I can barely hold myself up?” At those times the only thing I had was my own practice. I had to be so firmly grounded, focused and present that only my truth at that moment could come out.

When we awaken our own inner teacher and let it free, our students will begin to find theirs too. This will not come from our sequence, but it will come from our words. Headstand and arm balances are not required. Raw honesty and continuous self study are. If we never stop working on the inside, guaranteed the outside will start to fall into place.

Find your inner teacher, and the students will follow.

3. It’s About the Process, Not the Destination:

There will always be three more things you need to know. And two years from now, five years from now and 10 years from now there will still be three, five, 10 more things you need to know….and that’s ok. I have been teaching for almost 20 years, and I hope I never get to a place where I feel there is nothing left to learn. I mean, if we are living how can we not be learning?

Just like our practice on the mat, teaching yoga is a process as well.  Each day it will be different and it always will be changing. It will never be perfect. And not always easy.

Give yourself a break in striving for the perfection of instructing. Allow yourself the imperfectness and freedom to teach.

Do less. Be more.

Instruct to exercise the body. But teach to exercise the soul.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Lyn’s power yoga school is located in Ridgefield, CT where she offers mentoring and a 200 HR yoga teacher certification.

The Myths and Mindfulness of Power Yoga

13254454_10209590810188475_8771689116704197885_n

Growth comes from when things are difficult.

I started practicing power yoga almost 20 years ago. I remember a teacher early on saying that life is hard, so your practice on the mat should be hard. Wow, immediate attention and connection.

The fact is the lessons on the mat are really life lessons.

How we react to the challenge on the mat is how we ultimately will react to the challenges in life. And miraculously, this very physical practice showed me the way to start being less concerned about the outside, and more concerned about what was going on in the inside. This was coming from a very externally physically focused individual.

Power yoga changed my mindset, changed my life.

Over the last two decades I have read many articles, blogs and random comments in news feeds about power yoga. I have found that it is often misunderstood and given a bad rap.

Some of the misconceptions are:

It’s just exercise and there is nothing spiritual about it.
The philosophical part of yoga is taken out.
Just turn up the heat, move real fast, throw in lots of arm balances, have a kick ass playlist and that makes it power yoga.
It’s Hot Yoga. (And let me just clarify, I have no qualms with Hot Yoga, but the two are different). And last but not least, it’s not real yoga.

When it comes down to it, if we are on the path of truth, self-discovery, trying to make the world a better place…who are we to judge which path is chosen? The point is, we are on the path. And just because something is challenging on the outside does not mean it is not meaningful on the inside.

So after many years in the making (and procrastination), I sat down to set the record straight. This is what came out. Words from the heart of a yogi, not the mind of a writer……what power yoga is and what it is not…

It is NOT yoga for fitness.
It IS yoga for mindfulness.

It is NOT about having a perfect body to feed your ego.
It IS about maintaining a healthy body to house your soul.
It is NOT all about working out.
It IS everything about working in.

It is NOT about the pose or even being in the pose.
It IS about how you get into the pose and how you react to the pose.
It is NOT about how the pose looks.
It IS about how the pose feels.

It is NOT about where you go or learning to stand on your own two hands.
It IS about how you go and learning to stand on your own two feet.
And sometimes in life, when it’s necessary,
it will teach you how to stand on just one.

It is NOT about pushing, forcing, and muscling through physical challenges.
It IS about strengthening the soft and softening the hard through life’s challenges.
Falling. And landing.
Chaos. With calmness.
Options. No conditions.
Slow. Not fast.
Simple. Never easy.

It is NOT about what gets in the way of your practice.
It IS about getting out of your own way when you do.
It is NOT about running from discomfort.
It IS about finding comfortable in uncomfortable.
Not allowing yourself to break down, but giving yourself the opportunity to break open.

It is NOT about listening to the voices of judgment and searching for answers on the outside.
It IS about trusting your silent voice of wisdom only to discover that the answers are already there on the inside.
Picking up the right. Throwing down the wrong.
Stepping on your mat a mess. Stepping off having found bliss.

It is about less drama and more yamas.
It is about coming to your mat and practicing sukha and sthira, ahimsa and satya, saucha and santosha…
The focus is the process, rather than goal oriented madness.
Not being where you want to be, but accepting where you are.

Being guided by intention. Not mindless action.
A moving meditation. Not bending with distraction.
Sweating out the stress. Knowing perfection does not exist.
Trusting the breath never steers wrong, and in surrender you will find strong.

It is about thinking less. And being more.
Becoming less self-centered. And more other-centered.
Looking out for yourself less. Looking into yourself more.
Practicing there, so that you can take it here…

On the mat is where you start. Off is where you begin.

It is NOT about being a perfect person.
It IS about becoming a better human being.

~Link to the elephant journal version.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Lyn’s power yoga studio is located in Ridgefield, CT.