A Middle Path

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I am packing for the first weekend of my Yoga Teacher Training course! After months of planning the day has finally arrived. I am hoping the next year will bring spiritual enlightenment, an amazing sense of wellbeing, perfect health, great friends, beautifully performed asanas and maybe even the skills to teach. Not much then! I am excited, but now it is upon me, slightly nervous too.

I thought I was completely chilled about the level of asana that we will be doing. After all, good yoga is more about what is going on internally than the final position you achieve, right? My anxiety dream suggests otherwise; in my dream I am curled up on my yoga mat in class while some young and muscular thing performs incredible tumbling routines that have the teachers in raptures. Meanwhile I am still a blob lying on my mat. That was Monday’s dream anyway.

Age new perspectives in yoga.There is no longer any point in chasing difficult asanas; indeed, some poses that I used to be able to do are now frustratingly beyond my reach. In my twenties and thirties, the only yoga injury I sustained was a strained knee while I was pregnant. In my forties, I can pull a muscle in the simplest of poses. My body changes daily; what could do easily yeasterday can be a challenge today, and every pose has to be done with fresh awareness.

I am not really expecting to achieve any asanas that are more “advanced ” than those I can do already. If I learn to do my existing asanas with more insight and technique, that will be fine.

I find myself treading path between two different challenges.  On the one hand, I need to let go of my attachment to being able to do particular physical poses. There is no point in being competitive, even with myself.  Letting my ego drive my practice only leads to injury. Exploring each pose without expectations is a great lesson in non-attachment, but it is not always easy.

On the other hand, I don’t want to sell myself short by allowing self-limiting beliefs guide my practice.  If I am well warmed up I can take on some more challenging poses and I sometimes surprise myself with what I can do – a tricky balance, an inversion or a strenuous flow. Sometimes it is more about my state of mind than my flexibility. The middle path is a constant balancing act, and I fall off my tightrope pretty regularly.

Yet again, yoga provides a lesson that we can take to work as well. Getting very attached to goals, and then driving ourselves hard to achieve them is a sure recipe for stress and eventually health problems, especially if we forget to take care of ourselves. We skimp on sleep, exercise and relaxation, and ignore the warning signs. Being overly focussed on the goal means that we only see what is right in front of us; we miss the valuable information that is on the periphery of our awareness, and we might achieve the goal without ever questioning whether it was still the right goal.

On the other hand, self-limiting beliefs can keep us in our comfort zone. We tell ourselves that we can’t do things because we are too old/too young/not confident enough/not experienced enoug/not talented enough/too tired and we miss the chance to stretch and grow. We stick to the same old dull routine, and we tell ourselves it is all we are capable of.

So, this is the year of the middle path, not getting too attached to my goals, but allowing myself to be challenged and to stretch, and most of all enjoying the journey. I will let you know how it goes.

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Author: Careerpassionyogi

I've been a Careers Development professional for about twenty years,working with all sorts of clients - young people, adults, students, people facing redundancy and workforce development. These days I spend more time training other Careers Advisers. I qualified and then did an MA in Careers at University of East London, and I'm a member of the Institute of Career Guidance. I'm particularly interested in using Motivational Interviewing, Emotional Intelligence, NLP, Narrative Approaches and Planned Happenstance,mindfulness and yoga to make career guidance more exciting and powerful!

6 thoughts on “A Middle Path”

  1. Ciara, I wish you a joyful experience of your Yoga Training! When I think of my yoga teachers in the past, I never checked out what complex poses they could do. It was always about their presence, their way of being, their ability to create a nurturing environment. And I know you do all those things when you teach, so trust yourself and your journey. If you lived only closer, I’d love for you to be my yoga teacher. Maybe we can do some yoga at the next CDI conference?

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  2. I have done Yoga on and off for many years, but as someone who has only recently picked it up seriously again recently in my 50s, I am very aware of my limitations and unrealistic expectations. I agree with Ruth’s comments about Yoga teachers. I have a great teacher, but what makes her great isn’t how bendy she is (she is extremely bendy though, in her 60s too!) but her general approach to the asanas and the atmosphere she creates in the class, which is about so much more than physical gymnastics. It’s tricky to find a middle way, but what helps me is some advice I was given when I first joined a Yoga class, and that was to find my own “edge” or “ultimate point of stretch” and to try and push myself a little bit beyond that each time I did that particular asana. With Careers, I guess it’s about helping people find the edges of their own comfort zone and encouraging them to go outside of that in incremental stages.

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