In a world that continually conspires to draw your attention outward, seeking external input and approval, the act of personal inquiry can fly in the face of cultural norms. Although it may be uncomfortable at times, becoming aware and making fully conscious life choices offers you the potential to live and act based on internal awareness—at peace with yourself regardless of what is happening in the external world.
One of the many reasons for the growing popularity of yoga therapy is that it offers a broad umbrella of concepts, techniques, and practices from which youcan inquire into your internal sense of self. You get to choose the level and type of awareness that you want to develop, and the yoga therapist acts as a professional guide along the path.
Yoga therapy allows you to explore yourself more deeply and empowers you to be a more proactive participant in how you experience life. You are enlivened by your engagement with a deeper sense of self. The nervous system helps you gain more self-understanding. When you are aware of your internal cues and use them to be more responsive to the needs of the nervous system in various environments, the brain can change size and shape with new input (neuroplasticity). This in turn makes you even more responsive, sensitive, and resilient as you learn.
As you process the information related to yoga practices, it is important to recognize that everyone is unique and will respond differently based on previous conditioning, beliefs, and intentions for practice. The health and fitness culture has a tendency to make the individual experience a universal one: This is how I improved my strength, so you should do it the same way too. Another proclivity is for people to speak in absolutes. Here are the most common:
- This is the correct way to do it.
- You’re going about it all wrong.
- Do this, not that.
This tendency to speak in absolutes or authoritarian tones was established long ago, and we could probably write an entire book on the psychological, societal, religious, and political reasons for why this style of communication has become so prevalent in modern yoga culture. But that is not the focus of this article, so suffice it to say that this tendency exists, and it can leave people feeling confused or disempowered at some point during their journey toward a healthy, active lifestyle.
In the yoga world, there’s no shortage of teachers who will tell what you must or have to do for your yoga practice to be authentic, correct, in proper alignment, or whatever terms of authority they might use. There’s even a nickname in our culture for them: the yoga police. You might find them patrolling at gyms, studios, retreat centers, or most frequently in the comments section of social media feeds and blogs.
You will notice that the tone of this article is distinctly different from that of the yoga police. One of the cornerstones of our unique approach is a focus on personal inquiry. Rather than telling you what is right or wrong, we prefer to encourage you to notice, sense, feel, perceive, breathe, and respond to the practices as they unfold. The act of paying attention and inquiring is an art unto itself. In the face of a world that offers endless opportunities for distraction, it is no small undertaking. For this reason, we encourage you to be compassionate and patient with yourself as you hone your attention skills.
And while we honor the inquiry as much as finding answers where possible, we are also educators and experts in our fields. By nature, we have spent many years testing our hypotheses, garnering feedback from peers and students, and refining our processes. Our work has led us to eschew dogma and shudder at absolutes.
Subsequently, our programs are engineered to encourage students to explore the principles of yoga therapy in a way that is highly personal and immediately meaningful.
We start with the assumption that there is nothing wrong with you and that you are already doing the best that you can with the information you’ve been given. Our job as educators is to organize meaningful structures through which you can explore your intentions and actions and create an environment in which transformation can happen. Simply put, we are here to offer guidance that allows you to explore yoga therapy. We give you history, philosophy, and practices to connect the traditional to the needs of the modern day so you can better sense what yoga therapy might mean to you in the here and now. We offer a clear path that allows for growth and exploration. Rather than boxing you into any one perspective, our goal is that you start or continue your journey into yoga therapy. Then we encourage you to augment that in any way that makes it more relevant to your goals for an active lifestyle.
As you become a student of your body and mind and fine-tune your discernment skills, self-awareness will morph into self-empowerment. You will move forward in your yoga therapy practices with confidence based on your own developing inquiry. Let’s begin!