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How to avoid the yoga police | Sarah Studebaker, Yoga Instructor & Health Coach

How to avoid the yoga police

When practicing yoga, I’m very aware of my mind, my body, and also how crazy and endlessly distracting my thoughts can be.  Sometimes it’s the rest of the day’s to-do list, sometimes it’s wondering if what I’m doing is correct, and other times it’s random day dreaming.  Keeping your mind present with your breath is a challenging thing to do which is why I usually remind my students (and myself) this several times during class.  Commonly referred to as ‘monkey mind’, these distractions are as ubiquitous as the sun during a Texas summer.  Learning how to tame the ‘monkey’ can be a life long practice, but as I’ve said before- yoga is a practice, not a performance.

Don’t give up if your practices are usually just your body moving around while your mind jumps around somewhere else.  Hell, even stretching on the floor while watching your favorite TV show is better than nothing.  So, besides just endlessly lecturing yourself to be present and let go, here are 3 things you don’t need to worry about the next time you sit down for yoga-

  • 1- The poses that you’re doing.  There are no yoga police or cameras in your place.  Don’t worry if you’re doing your sun salutations correctly or what your half moon pose looks like from afar.  Who cares?!  Remember that there are no correct ways to do certain poses and different styles of yoga teach contradictory poses.  As Cathy Cox said in the recent MindBodyGreen article “4 things that are wrong with yoga today“, “branded styles of yoga… limit growth, rather than foster it.”  When you’re practicing alone at home, just move in a way that feels good to you on that day.
  • 2- The amount of time that you have to practice.  As I’ve said before, some yoga is better than no yoga.  When you sit down to practice, don’t stress if you only have time for a few poses and need to skip sivasana.  I won’t tell the yoga police on you.  Just do what you have time for and thank yourself for spending even just a few minutes practicing.
  • 3- That nagging to-do list.  When you’re sitting on your yoga mat there is not one thing that you can do to cross something off your to-do list.  Let that go and unplug.  Know that all that stuff exists away from your mat and will still be waiting there for you when you’re finished.  If you practice with your phone or computer next to you (other than to listen to music), I will tell the yoga police on you for that.

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