Judgement in Yoga – 6 tips on how to avoid it

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I am surprised every time when I adjust a student’s asana and they apologise. Thankfully that doesn’t happen often! What it does tell me is that that student is either judging her/himself or is afraid of being judged by the other participants or the teacher.

A while ago I attended a class I haven’t been to before and when the opportunity arose, took flying crow. It is a fairly advanced asana (there are other far more advanced than that!), which I enjoy doing and like to practice as my left side is not nearly as balanced as the right! While doing this, I heard a comment from the teacher:  “Remember folks, this is not a competition.” She must have seen a reaction in some of the participants and was letting them know that.

Years ago, early on in my teaching days there was a fellow teacher who reasonably regularly attended one of my classes. I noticed her often rolling her eyes or frowning and shaking her head.  Naturally, as a beginner teacher, that nearly threw me completely! Another teacher, also early after our training course, liked to slap the floor to get me to come over and then she would point out something she thought I should adjust in a student, or if she thought I should be doing something differently.

Yeah – I know. Really bad behaviour, right? The last two are (very real, unfortunately) extreme examples of judging that does happen. I confided in a more experienced teacher and as we talked, and her assuring me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with my teaching, I realised that  the judgement has so much more to do with the judger than it has to do with the judged.

So, if you find yourself feeling critical of how you practice, or if you are afraid of being judged by others, here are some tips:

1  Practising yoga is not a competition.

Yep – that first teacher was absolutely right.  And yes, there are competitive personalities wherever you go. Just try to remember that you aren’t there to compete.  You are there for your own practice, whatever “level” it may be at. (This is one of the reasons I never ask a new participant what “level” they are at.  It only makes opportunity for labels. And if you are a teacher worth her/his salt you will get a very good idea, well before the first round of sun salutations ends, how experienced that person is. And a teacher would use that knowledge only to help with cueing and adjusting poses, offering modifications and possibly the pace.)

2  A good teacher would never judge you.  

Not in the negative way that would label you. Don’t be afraid. Your practice space is safe. So is your learning. And if you ever have the misfortune to land up in a class where that happens, use your power: don’t go back to that class. Or perhaps have a chat with the teacher. There is also always a chance that perhaps you might have felt judged but in reality weren’t. Nevertheless, here is something else that would be good to remember: keep trying different classes and different teachers until you hit on someone whom you feel comfortable with and feel you can learn something from.

3  Get out of your head and into the practice.

Seriously. When we practice yoga, that is what we are doing. Not analysing, not wondering how we are doing, not thinking about what to make for dinner or what the student next to you thinks of your practice. We practice yoga.

4  Remember older poses you couldn’t do before.

Just remember the first time you mastered crow pose. When you first saw it demonstrated, chances are you thought something like: “That looks so hard.  I wonder if I could do it.” Then you did progress! That’s how I advise students to think about poses that look really difficult. Chances are that some of them are, but with persistence and practice, you will learn how to do them. That is what we do when we attend a yoga class, after all. We go there to learn and to practice.

5  Judgement says more about the judger than it says about the judged.

We all see life through unique eyes, with our unique experiences and interpretations behind that. Perhaps the person you feel judged by (if they really are and you’re not just afraid they might) does that because they feel uncertain. The thing is, we can’t possibly know everything. Allow for that. Just remain true to yourself. And to your practice.

6  Yoga practice is your time and your effort.

Remember why you went in the first place. You wanted something out of practising yoga. Own your time and your effort. Don’t allow real or perceived judgements spoil that for you.

By the way, these tips work in other situations in life too! Try it, you might just notice the usefulness of that.

Wishing you lots of happy hours of practice.

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Manipulation

why-do-people-manipulate

Manipulation. I don’t know if I need to get over myself but one of my core values is to NOT try to manipulate someone. Personally, I feel insulted (I have a good BS detector – I’m a Capricorn) when I spot someone trying to manipulate me. This is something I have always had very strong feelings about.

But where does personal responsibility start? We all know that companies, big and small, manipulate our thinking. An advertising campaign is exactly that. You are targeted on your preferences to buy something you may not ordinarily have bought. Supermarkets do – most of us are aware how aisles are specifically placed and flowed to make us buy more than we intend to.

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” ― Edward Bernays, Propaganda

What about on a personal level? Babies do – we are born, for example, with eyeballs that never change size. So when we’re born, our eyes are big and appealing, and we make just the right kind of noises and our parents come to our aid. We need that to survive.

In a relationship – there is sometimes good reason to manipulate each other. For example, if a partner is given to spending too much time online, we kinda “guide” them away from that with distractions, etc. Rather that than a full on discussion or worse, confrontation. Most of us are all about keeping the peace so you do what you need to, right?

What about white lies – aren’t they also manipulation? Would you tell someone that they look terrible, or avoid that by saying something else or coming out with a straight faced white lie?

I have been manipulated and NOT in a good way – a very long marriage where I even got to a point where I completely questioned my own validity and my sanity.  Started suffering from depression.  Found out years later that has a name:  Gaslighting.  There was another relationship where I was manipulated on a daily basis because he was in another, live-in relationship.  THAT is the kind of manipulation I am talking about.  The kind of manipulation that causes rifts in families.  The kind of manipulation that leaves you feeling – if not entirely aware of what it going on – a little uneasy.  Or a lot.

My feeling is that at some point we have to take responsibility for manipulating others. It can be a grey area – difficult to pin down. I’m kinda thinking that if we start getting people to do stuff for us just for the sake of getting them to, or if we risk hurting someone in the process, or if we catch ourselves in the habit of relating to people in a manipulating way overall – it is time to CHECK IN!  If you do what you do at someone else’s expense and to gain from it selfishly, that’s manipulation.

The closest I can find: “Because to take away a man’s freedom of choice, even his freedom to make the wrong choice, is to manipulate him as though he were a puppet and not a person.” ― Madeline L’Engle

And finally: “I’ve been doing this a long time- manipulating people to get my way. That’s why you think you love me. Because I’ve broken you down and built you back up to believe it. It wasn’t an accident. Once you leave this behind….. you’ll see that. -Caleb” ― CJ Roberts, Seduced in the Dark

 

Thoughts?

 

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6 Reasons to NOT Take a Phone into Yoga Practice

 

person meditating
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A few weeks ago I was in a co-teacher’s class for practice.  I like partaking in classes as I find the energy contagious and as a teacher myself it is nice to be guided.  I also find it helps expand my own teaching and practice.

Before class started I noticed a woman behind me on her phone.  She was texting or scrolling or something (that mindless thing you see people do on their phones).  I tried to ignore it but ended up asking her very politely if she would just please take her phone outside.  She just laughed and ignored my request.  I felt I could ask, provided I was polite, and also because I know the teacher and know that she doesn’t allow phones in her class.  Well, as the devil would have it the phone actually rang during the last part of class during the quiet asanas.

I also don’t allow electronic devices into my class.  Ok – people have smart watches too now, but I try to be reasonable.  (Yes, I am 62 but am as much immersed in this electronic world as anyone else.)  Comically I have actually had people in their 40’s and 50’s argue with me when I ask them to leave their phones outside!  Of course, there are those who try to sneak their phones in.  So what is the big deal with having a phone with you in class?

  1. Like it or not, even if your phone is on standby or off, it is a distraction.  Most people are so used to checking it every few minutes why wouldn’t you have that urge in practice too?  And believe me – I have seen people do that over and over in classes where they had phones with them.  Even if you resist that urge, you think about it.
  2. It IS a distraction for other participants.  For some it is for the same reasons it is a distraction for you.  But for many people yoga is not just a physical workout.  For a whole lot of people it is a space where they can safely practice.  This includes being in a space that is free from distractions for them.  There are also many people for whom yoga practice is a spiritual engagement.  It is reasonable for any yoga participant to expect that they can practice in a quiet and good environment.
  3. Even if you have your phone on silent, it could very well receive a call or text during practice.  How many people in this society have the will power to ignore that?  Besides, why bring it in to class in the first place then?
  4. If you look at the eight limbs of astanga yoga, there are so many considerations there:  just to name a few, in the first limb of Yama, there is Ahimsa – non violence.  Isn’t stomping all over someone’s fair expectation to have a quiet and distraction free practice a violent disregard?  What about Ishvara Pranidhana – surrendering to a power higher than oneself?  Oh wait – is that higher power your phone?
  5. During each asana, we are reminded to remain mindful.  Yoga Sutra 1.33 discusses how consciousness arises by radiating friendliness, compassion, delight and equanimity toward all things.  1.34 says:  Or by pausing after breath flows in or out.  1.35 says:  Or by steadily observing as new sensations materialise.  How does one do all these things when your phone is right there next to you?  Again the question:  why bring it in in the first place?
  6. What about attachment?  Again returning to the Sutras, 1.37 says:  Or by focussing on things that do not inspire attachment.  People attached to their phones??  Surely not!

I have some opinions on the observed and mindless addiction to their phones that so many people demonstrate but won’t go into all that now.

I guess my point is – if you have no intention to use or glance at your phone during yoga practice, why on earth would you want it with you in your practice?  And also – just consider others too.  Everyone does not have exactly the same point of view you may have on the constant use of phones.

Be mindful – Namaste

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Classes in your home

I offer personalised vinyasa or yin sessions in your home in the Whitby or surrounding areas.  Please contact me at amandamettayoga@gmail.com for details.  For credentials, please see the “About Metta Yoga” tab on this blog.

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Blogging

I have been so busy and am now in a position to start thinking about blogging again – for this blog as well, again as other sites.

Please feel free to check out some of the articles I have.  Also feel free to feed back!  Is there anything you would like to see?

 

http://www.gaia.com/bio/amanda-sive

 

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Yoga Nidra Meditation Workshops

We are excited to announce a series of four weekly meditation workshops starting Sunday 13 September 6 – 7 pm at Abundance Thorndon.

Yoga Nidra is a deep relaxation meditation so the timing is perfect to end the weekend and to start your week relaxed and calm.

We are unable to take bookings so please arrive a little early to ensure a space. We also won’t have access to the studio’s eftpos facility, so please just bring cash – $10 per class.

For any additional information, please visit the Abundance website or contact the studio manager, Lauren Sgarlato, or myself on here

http://abundancemindbody.co.nz/workshops/

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Judgement

http://www.gaiamtv.com/article/judgment-yoga-6-tips-how-avoid-it

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Anger and compassion

Someone who is angry is someone who doesn’t know how to handle their suffering. They are the first victim of their suffering, and you are actually the second victim. Once we can see this, compassion is born in our heart and anger evaporates. We don’t want to punish them any more, but instead we want to say something or do something to help them suffer less.” Thich Nhat Hanh​.

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What does a young British Cordon Bleu chef do to help with yoga?

I wrote this article about a year ago. It really can be a little bit of a challenge sometimes – we all sometimes feel a little disconnected. Or distracted. So as teachers we learn where and how to find inspiration for classes. Keeping in mind that I think we all don’t just want to find an amazing theme for a class, you want to offer something useful, helpful.

Rachel Khoo – beautiful young British Cordon Bleu chef, who lived in Paris for a while and now London, has the habit of wandering around the city with a camera and a notebook, with the purpose of finding inspiration for her philosophies and designs and dishes.

I am a keen people observer. I love walking around. I love just quietly being in nature. I love writing. I always have my class book with me. Put my iPod/phone camera in the mix and I have everything I need to try that too! So I am going to do more of that. With the purpose of finding inspirational classes.

Where does a yoga teacher’s inspiration come from? As a teacher you, of course, want to start every class knowing you have something to offer your students. You would like every student to take something away with them. So it remains a constant…
GAIAMTV.COM
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Svadhyaya

Our thoughts are with Vietnamese Zen Master, Thích Nhất Hạnh, who is very ill.

“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

We talked about Svadhyaya in class tonight – self study. Getting to know and understand ourselves. Extend that understanding and love to yourself as much as you would to a loved one.

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