I have a practice routine. I typically take the same classes at the same times of day with the same teachers. I learn a lot from these teachers as they know my practice, and can push me in personal ways to improve. I am grateful for their reminders and corrections when I struggle, and for their compliments when I have pushed my posture to a new place. They know me, and they notice, and I appreciate that. But sometimes, it is nice to mix it up – try out a different time of day for your practice or a different teacher. Every time I do, I learn something new.
This weekend I had the opportunity to take an afternoon class from a teacher that I had never met. It was terrific! He was uniquely focused on the physicality of the practice and provided very detailed descriptions of how to set up and do each posture, including some interesting tips that I had not heard before.
For example, he mentioned how important it is in Standing Head to Knee that the standing foot be exactly perpendicular to the mirror. If the heel is turned in or turned out, even slightly, it will strain the ligaments and can lead to knee problems. I hadn’t known that, but quickly noticed that my standing foot was not exactly straight on my right side. Uh oh! I will watch for that now.
He also had a tip for Eagle Pose. I knew that I needed to squeeze my arms and legs together in the posture, but his description of squeezing and cutting off the blood circulation in my arms and legs inspired me to squeeze harder somehow. I was literally trying to cut off the blood flow. I’m not sure what was different in his words, but I gained a new perspective on the posture.
Another example is Half Moon Pose, where he suggested that we shift our body weight to the edges of both feet as we pushed our hips. In other words, if you are pushing your hip to the left, you place your body weight along the left edges of both feet. This helped me to extend the push in my hips while also keeping my body from collapsing. Cool!
I am grateful for his insights and approach and will take this new learning to my regular practice. This experience was also a nice reminder to not get too comfortable in my practice and my routines. A new teacher, or a new time of day, or a new spot in the room can provide a new perspective that can add a lot to my practice. And yours too.
Fellow yogis, has a new teacher ever given you a new perspective?