Yoli practicing mindful yoga
The Secret to Taking your Yoga Practice to the Next Level By Yoli Grandjean
Yoli completed her 200HR Teacher Training at Spira Power Yoga, she is also trained in Trauma Sensitive Yoga, she teaches every Sunday at 9:30 AM at Spira Power Yoga. When Yoli is not teaching yoga, she is busy promoting community health as a nurse manager and educator. You can find out more about Yoli and the rest of the amazing teachers at Spira Power Yoga here.
When I started practicing yoga, I simply wanted to learn the poses. It didn’t take long for me to understand the basic forms, and soon I began to pay more attention to the transitions from one to another. Eventually, as I grew stronger and more experienced, I set my sights on achieving more challenging poses. I still remember the moment I made it into my first, very wobbly, tripod headstand in class. I had such a sense of accomplishment! Since that time, my yoga practice has grown beyond anything I could have anticipated when I was a new practitioner. You might expect that I’m going to share with you a single, magical piece of advice for getting into a headstand. Perhaps you’re hoping I’ll tell you how to master those tricky arm balances. (I’m not going to tell you that, but I’ll give you a hint: playful curiosity.) Maybe you’re guessing the next section is about core strength or breathing techniques.
No, what I want to share with you is much simpler than inversions or arm balances. What I’ve learned, and what keeps me growing in my practice, is this: The pose is not the practice. This perspective was a foundational part of my yoga teacher training at Spira, and I continue to explore it today. Gary Kraftsow echoes Dora Gyarmati’s teaching when he says, “I would like for people to realize that yoga is not about touching your toes.” That may come as a surprise to you. Or, if you’ve been practicing yoga for a while, it may be a reminder of what you already know to be true. The poses are an entry point into the real practice, and that practice is a little different for each of us.
I hope, at this point, you’re asking yourself the very important question, “If the pose isn’t the practice, what is?” This is the question that could launch your yoga practice into a new realm. Each of us gets to answer the question for ourselves, and that is one of the many beautiful aspects of yoga. This is also why I’m grateful to teach at Spira, a studio that encourages curiosity, awareness, and self-study rather than perfecting poses. Let’s say you’re on your mat one day, and you keep falling out of a balancing pose. The first step is to notice: What happens to your energy? Do you become tense? Get frustrated? Tell yourself you’ll never get it? If any of those scenarios sound familiar, I would suggest your practice is not about balancing. Perhaps your practice that day is to let go of expectations. Or maybe your practice is to show yourself love and grace in challenging times. When we look beyond the physical forms in yoga, we open to new possibilities for growth that are, in my opinion, more exciting and meaningful than achieving a fancy pose.
This is especially good news for people who may think they are not flexible enough to do yoga. The only flexibility required is mental—a willingness to try something new and see what happens. TKV Desikachar reminds us, “Yoga has its roots in Indian thought, but its content is universal because it is about the means by which we can make the changes we desire in our lives.” The power to bring about those changes comes from engaging in the practice beyond the physical forms. If you’re looking to take your yoga practice someplace new, different, or deeper, I offer you this “secret”: the pose is not the practice.
If you are interested in the journey of self-study, look into 200-HR Self Enrichment / Teacher Training at Spira Power Yoga. Even if you have already done 200-hour training elsewhere, it is worth your time. Spira focuses on Self-Study by reading seven books, and analyzing yoga as a lifestyle over nine months. We can offer a broader curriculum that is very different from the intensive 200HR trainings that complete in two months time.