Am I doing the right Yoga ?

This is an important question as more and more people take up Yoga, and more and more teachers appear, and marketing becomes sophisticated and compelling. It will depend on many things, such as your age, your disposition, your goals, your tendencies, and your starting point. There’s a lot of yoga out there and sometimes there’s not much guidance about what is going to be the best practice for you. The issue of appropriateness needs to be considered. Yoga can be adapted to suit anyone, in any condition; that is one of its strengths as a modality for healing and personal transformation. This requires skill, training, and experience from the teacher. If you ever find yourself struggling in class, that’s a red flag. Yoga is meant to reduce suffering, not create it, on any level. Embracing the notion that Yoga is not a cookie-cutter solution can help you find the appropriate class and teacher. Checking in with yourself about how you feel in a class is a good starting point. Are you relaxed? Do you feel empowered? Welcome? Seen? What happens after class is even more important. One of the underlying principles of all yoga practices is that the practice itself should support you to do your Dharma, to carry out your unique purpose in life. Can you feel yourself coming closer to your truth? Is your Yoga bringing you home? You would hope so. Vedic culture, where Yoga originated from has a helpful model of the journey of human life and relates this to what an appropriate practice looks like. When you are young, say under 21 your role in life is to be a student, a learner. It is a time of rapid growth and little responsibility. The right practice is very physical, using the asana and the breath to develop good health and vitality. It is not a time for deep introspection. Then comes the middle life phase which is all about being fully in the world. Having children perhaps, finding a way to provide for yourself and your family. It is full of responsibilities. At this point, the physical aspect of the practice should reduce and the dimension of pranayama and meditation should increase. In the last phase of your life, the whole thing is completely turned on its head as we enter the phase of wisdom. This is a time for introspection and pursuing Spiritual goals with a deeper commitment. Now the practice is primarily pranayama and meditation, with a little asana to support the deeper practices. This is the era of stillness. These are broad sweeping categories, and we will all pass through these phases at different rates. The transitions can be tricky. How to let go of a demanding physical practice that 10 years ago was perfect? I see so many students struggle with this and I found it a confusing stage myself. It may be helpful to remember the goal of Yoga is to take you closer to your true self. How much ease, peace, and authenticity is your practice bring you? Om Shanti ~Kate

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