by Suzanne L. Beenackers
Count your blessings, one, two, three
I just hate keeping score
Any number is fine with me
As long as it’s more
I m Breathless (1990)
Ever since I started with yoga I ve done two distinctly different types: one that is most commonly referred to as hatha yoga, the type of yoga “anyone can do”, with little to no focus on alignment and where advanced postures are shielded from the sight of beginners, as not to scare them away. The other one is vinyasa yoga, or as it was called then power yoga or ashtanga yoga. This is an athletic and dynamic type of yoga and most likely to have a boot camp flavor to it.
As it turns out, I like the laissez faire attitude of hatha yoga, but with the energy of a vinyasa yoga class. As did more people!
Over the years power yoga lost quite a bit of following to the more friendly style vinyasa yoga. First with Shiva Rea, who was the reigning Queen of vinyasa yoga from let’s say 2000-2010, and after that a whole army of You Tube wannabees who accidentally pushed her from the throne. And everybody was okay with that. Because vinyasa yogis are friendly folk who couldn’t care less who’s on the throne as long as they’re having a good time.
Your mindset and yoga
The difference between yoga styles lies for a good part in the reason you’re doing it in the first place. Are you doing yoga because of a long term goal (could be just “to be better at yoga” or even “to become happier”) and muscling your way through it, or because you like doing yoga? If you would get nothing out of it, other than the time on your mat, would you still do it?
Over the years, I ve come to understand that I want the answer to that question to be:
Yes, I would still do yoga even if it made no difference on my physical body.
But! (there is a but) I never ever want to do yoga if I m not having fun doing it.
And it took me a long time to understand why I believed this lighthearted approach was the right one. Even though it will probably not get me any respect, nor will it make me “better at yoga”.
To illustrate why I believe yoga “should” never be done with a goal driven mindset, I will do two things: refer to the Bhagavad Gita and talk about sex. That way, I m sure either one will appeal to you.
I’m going bananas,
And I feel like my poor little mind is being devoured by piranhas,
For I’m going bananas.
I m Breathless (1990)
Bhagavad Gita: ancient scripture where God Krishna teaches Arjuna a thing or two about karma (to work, to act) and the fruits of his labor. Krishna tells Arjuna to focus on the work, the task that he has to do, and not on the (desired) outcome. Because you know what? A very funny thing happens in your mind the moment you start visualizing the outcome of your actions: you get divided. Immediately and thoroughly, your mind gets split in half: one eye focusing on the now, one on the future. Doing your work, hobby, duty because you’re expecting a pay off other than the experience of doing it, is setting yourself up for going bananas.
There lies no happiness there.
Not even if you reach the goal, or are praised for your results: the effect will be short-lived because either you will have thought of new goals by then, or have new problems that require healing.
Doing yoga because you want to cure your back pain, improve your breathing, get a good night sleep or become You Tube’s newest Shiva Rea wannabee? Even if you reach those goals, you will do so with a split mind, and it is therefor not the road to happiness.
Okay, second half: sex. Sex is the only other thing I can think of that can be practiced for as many different reasons, and by such a variety of people, as yoga. And everyone will have their own interpretation what sex should be like, what is good sex et cetera.
Now, just like yoga, in my opinion sex should never be practiced if you don’t feel like it. And I guess doing something sexual against your will or mood, is not a road anyone would recommend. From the little I know about sex therapies, couples are sometimes encouraged to have more sex by just getting together, taking an interest in each other and setting the mood. And then see what comes from there.
And that is precisely what my advice for yoga would be.
If you aspire to have a yoga practice, I invite you to get onto your yoga mat, and think of something that inspires you. Or put on a yoga video you like to watch. I want you to find your lighthearted, happy self, before you’re doing any physical yoga.
To, in a way, fall in love with your own practice.
And then trust me; the back pain, the good night sleep, and your career on You Tube, will all take care of themselves 😉
week 6 – The Makko-Ho stretches
For 15 weeks I’m teaching based on classes from Sadie Nardini. This week I m using one class from Sadie’s Rockstar Teacher Training, but also a completely unrelated Japanese series called The Makko-Ho stretches.
You can find there Makko-Ho stretches here on You Tube.
I ve also made a special pdf, with my own creative interpretation of the Makko-Ho adding a lot more movement.
Musical score: Fun with the 50s
I m using an online yoga class from Sadie’s Rockstar Teaching training, and in this one she was playing jazzy music… and I desired to stay in style and use Madonna’s 50’s album;
I m Breathless, the soundtrack from Dick Tracy.