Chaturanga Dandasana is responsible for changing the way I practice yoga and leading me to begin to study more about the roots of yoga.
I came to yoga in my late 40’s to help heal my body after years of misusing my body through incorrect alignment, misuse of muscles and storing emotions rather than feel them. I had bulging discs. I was in terrible pain and having a hard time finding help beyond a shot to ease the pain. I passed on the shot as it did not address the problem, it just masked. I was a wreck when I walked into the Baptiste Yoga studio. Baptiste is a hot, power practice that offers self-reflection opportunities. This is an intense physical practice with many Chaturangas used as a transition and to build heat. One only has so many of them in their shoulders and in five years I was running out of capacity.
Inevitably I became a yoga teacher. One of the reoccurring themes in my former Baptiste practice was know your why. I know my why as I move forward with yoga. I want to help others heal. I want to practice and teach yoga that connects mind, body and spirit. I want to teach and practice yoga as a prayer and a meditation. I want to teach yoga for EVERY BODY. I want to be are part of an ancient practice in a way that is true to the foundations and not a cultural appropriation. I want to keep learning about this practice.
While physical, yoga is not a workout. It is not about confusing the feeling after a good class as “love and light.” Yoga is not extreme poses or a specific logo on the back waistband of a pair of yoga leggings. The best comment I ever received from a student acknowledged that while there was a physical aspect to my classes, but she appreciated how I wove mental wellbeing and spirituality into my classes.
This sacred practice is over 5,000 years old. I am not inventing anything. I owe it to the practice and my students to incorporate the eight limbs of yoga; to continue to learn the history; to explore the different styles to understand where yoga came from and why.
Note: While I wrote this to enter a contest on @susannabarkataki on Instagram, I chose to post this because, well, this blog is call The Yoga Cowgirl. Susanna has just released a book, “Embrace Yoga’s Roots”. Written by a South Asian, this book explores the ancient wisdom and traditions of yoga. If you are interested, please check out her Instagram. And there will be more yoga coming from me.