One of the lovely instructors at my studio often reminds us to step onto our Mats with a sense of curiosity. Rather than focusing on self-critique as we move in and out of postures, she encourages us to stay curious about the choices we’re making and about our reactions to those choices.
Of course, we’re all enlightened yogis who focus only on our breath during practice. We never look around the room and judge ourselves against others’ abilities. We never express disappointment when we topple. And we never, ever, ever feel guilty when we take a break in Child’s Pose. Right?
We’re humans who carry our egos onto our Mats with us. Sometimes, I plunk so much ego baggage on my Mat, there’s barely room for my body. Take today, for example. I was in the front row, smack dab in front of the mirrors. When we reached Warrior II, I caught a glimpse of my triceps. Or, rather, the place where my triceps have been replaced by huge bat wings. (If you don’t know what a bat wing is, there are articles all over the Internet on how to get rid of them. Which feeds into my frenzy.)
Let’s contrast this with yesterday when I found myself feeling pretty darn good about how deep my Prasarita (wide-legged forward bend) took me. I mean, my head touched the floor. That’s fantastic, right? That compensates for flabby upper arms. Totally.
This is where my instructor would remind me to find curiosity. Why the negativity about my arms? Why the need for pride from having my head touch the floor? The alternative to these two reactions, of course, could have me in a deeper, more mindful practice. Some days that comes more easily than others. So, I practice and remind myself that yoga is less about stretching my body and so very much more about stretching my mind and my spirit. When I approach things with curiosity, I strengthen my ability to be mindful and to accept. And, when I replace criticism with curiosity, I give myself permission to try new things without fear.
Today’s intention: I will replace criticism with curiosity and self-judgment with acceptance.
Join me in giving it a try – let’s approach our practices with curiosity. Who knows what may happen.