All the time, we read about football players getting into trouble–there are issues with drugs and with their inappropriate actions with women. The yoga community has seen its own share of scandals with celebrity teachers. I won’t name names, since so many other writers already have. The more important thing to address here is the fact that power goes to peoples’ heads.
We’ve all been there-that moment where you catch a real yoga buzz and you feel big
You catch that yoga buzz that comes from a lizard pose or perhaps pigeon-that magical point where we get beyond the fear of stretching out quads to the breaking point and get the whoosh of energy up through our chest. One-legged pigeon is nothing short of a breakthrough. You do it and you feel amazing. Your apprehension is gone and you feel downright powerful. Once you contort yourself successfully into king pigeon, you feel really powerful.
Getting into a pose like king pigeon means you’re not a beginner; you may start to take selfies and post them. You may even have others take pics of you in poses like Half Lord of the Dance pose (natarajasana) and others. Why not? You can’t fake these complex poses; if you’re doing them, you’ve done a lot of work and exercised a lot of self-discipline while exercising your muscles.
As a student, remember the work you did to get there
Don’t disconnect from your “baby days” of yoga. When I started my own practice, I couldn’t even touch my own toes. It took me the better part of three years to get into full, one-legged king pigeon pose. In class, I often tell my students my stories about slow, steady progress. I do it partly to encourage them to keep practicing, and also to remind them that I am an ordinary person, just like them. Doing this also helps me keep my own ego from getting the better of me.
A real teacher never stops being student
I encourage my students to tell me how they feel in each yoga pose and to tell me what they do to talk themselves through each phase of the posture. I tell them that they have as much to teach me as I have to teach them. Yoga is a process that never ends. You will always learn more, and you should always share what you’ve learned in a humble way. This encourages others to share their own viewpoints in the same manner and created a connected environment.
Remember your personal, private yoga practice
Chances are, an advanced yoga class will be a place you go after you’ve developed a strong, private practice, and after you’ve developed confidence in yourself in whatever poses you like to do. Not too many classes will encourage headstands like sirsasana, at least not without a long disclaimer. A teacher can help you learn safe and proper technique, but mastery of the pose won’t come in a weekly class, it will come from your own, private practice.
The incubator of success in yoga is still that place at home where you did that first pose
Your private, solitary practice is still the incubator for most of your development of technique. It’s the place where you let yourself go, where you forget about how you look to others and remember how you look to yourself in your own private space. In short, it is where you connect how you move in each pose to how you really feel when you see your real self.