The Right Way?

The Right Way?

The Right Way?

How many times do we get caught up in being right?  This has happened to me many times and on many levels.  I guess it is time I learn the lesson and share it with you…

As a yoga teacher, I see it all the time- in myself and in others.  We begin teaching a certain way and learning the how and why and we think it is the ONLY way.  Then, something comes along and shows us it is not.  Here are a few examples from yoga:

  • I was always taught not to arch your back when you stand up and have arms overhead.  I was taught it would hurt your back.  I noticed teachers teaching this way and it always bothered me.  Then, I was in a class where the teacher asked us to do this, but to be mindful and cat tilt slightly first (reach the tailbone toward your heels) to keep the lower back safe.  This felt great.  All of a sudden I got it.  You can look up and arch or you can stand with back straight.  Both ARE right!
  • The other day I had a student in class. I went to give her and adjustment (bend her elbows since they were locked and hyperextended).  She was pretty resistant and dismissive of me.  I realized then that she was used to her “right way.”  If she bent her elbows she would have felt a greater stretch in her shoulders and chest which was what we were trying to do.  I wondered then was there ever a time I attended someone’s class and wouldn’t follow directions because I didn’t think it was right? I hope not because I may have missed something.
  • In teacher training, I remember Max telling us, “No matter what I teach you, there will always be someone out there who disagrees with me.”  How true this is.  In researching topics in yoga (especially anatomy of poses) you will see all kinds of differences within the same pose.  Each school of yoga has its own beliefs and systems and within each school there are even divisions.  Why can’t they all be right?  For me it is a matter of the tools that are right for right now.  As I continue to learn, I am sure I will find other tools along the way to add to what I know.

As yogis, teachers and students, when will we realize we need something different each day and at each stage of our lives.  One day a fast, sweaty practice can get you moving when all you want to do is lay down.  Other days, you need a soothing practice to bring jangled nerves back into harmony.  When we listen to our body’s internal voice, we will find many contradictions- one day craving comfort and meditation, another craving movement and momentum.  Whatever your body tells you today, listen.  There is no right way to do yoga, there is no wrong way to do yoga.  Just find a place that makes you feel safe and feels right for you right now.

A side note to yoga teachers– I think it is crucial that we support one another no matter the style of yoga or our differences.  Over the years I have realized there really is no “right way” to do anything.


Elizabeth Delaney