Where should I feel it?

I had a student come up to me after my yin class last night. She said, “you didn’t tell me where I should feel some of the poses. I didn’t know if I was doing it right.” I told her the “rightness” was a yang way of thinking and to do yin, we have to think yin. We have to check in with ourselves, rather than being determined to get the pose “right.”

There is so much should-ing in yoga. There are a lot of places that I have been told where my knee “should be.” I have heard a lot about how my breath should be, how I should sit. I felt really good about myself when my body complied, when I was injury free, and when I fit in.

I realized the other day that yoga teachers can be the worst ones of all when it comes to ego. Telling people what they “should” be doing and demonstrating at worst can be like saying, “You’ll be a better person if you just had my body.”

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I have moved more and more away from should-ing and more into silence. Do you feel it in your QL (quadratus lumborum) in your low back? Do you instead feel it in your hamstrings? Do you feel your intercostals (muscles laced through the sides of the ribs)? Good for you. Who am I to tell you that is wrong? Your connective tissues affect how you feel things and where you feel things. We can all get into the same shape and feel it differently. We can get into different shapes and feel them the same. Or in yin, we can do something that gets us to feel something that lies along the lines of a healthy sensation and we can sit with it. We can try our best not to fidget and not to question ourselves. Not to think that we aren’t doing enough or being enough or not looking enough like the teacher or the person beside us. You have no idea what people are feeling like on the inside.

The more and more I move away from should-ing, the more I find that mindfulness happens. I check in, again and again, with my expressive, ever-changing body and it talks to me, in ways big and small. We all have a teacher who can tell us where it is good for us to feel it today. We just have to get quiet enough to hear him or her.

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