When you think of advanced yoga, what images come to mind?
Do you think of people putting their feet behind their heads, doing the splits, or balancing on one arm? There is a popular conflation of yoga and contortionism that makes it seem like the goal of yoga is to see how far you can bend, stretch and dismantle your body.
More yoga teachers, students and studies are showing that intense, vigorous and forceful asana (stretching) postures can cause as much harm as good. There is a growing community of wise teachers and researchers who are working to change the public misconception that the advancement of a yoga practice is shown by how flexible the practitioner is.
It is true that many people would benefit from increasing their flexibility; building strength, stability, mobility and balance in a functional range of motion can be achieved in a much safer and easier way.
In the practice of Bo Yoga, we see “advanced” practice differently. How many movements do you make in your day? Thousands? Millions? How about in a month or in a year? Of these movements, how many of them have come from inspiration, rather than from obligation? Our bodies become like programmed robots: we walk a certain way, we sit a certain way, we write the words people want us to write, and we say what people want us to say.
Bo Yoga is about taking back our bodies and minds, and about allowing ourselves the freedom to move and to express ourselves honestly. There are few better feelings or greater accomplishments than honest self-expression. BoYoga will help you practice and master the ability to guide your own movements. It may seem counter intuitive to think that copying movements from a system will teach you how to freely make your own movements, but that is indeed the goal. Think of Bo Yoga as similar to learning a new language. Although you may copy the new language exactly, you do not walk around only reciting what you learned in your textbook to the people you meet in a new country. You use the language to express yourself, your own thoughts and ideas. You can copy and learn the Bo Yoga system directly, but that is not mastery, only mimicry. When you come to the point where the Balance Bar feels like an extension of your body, when you can truly express yourself, heal yourself, and depend on yourself, then you have found the meaning and true value of Bo Yoga.
The legendary Bruce Lee said, “Ultimately, martial art means honestly expressing yourself… I mean it is easy for me to put on a show and be cocky… Or I could show you some really fancy movement. But to express oneself honestly, not lying to oneself… Now that, my friend, is very hard to do.”
The purpose of Bo Yoga is to unlock the chains of habit and obligation that have ta ken over your body, and to give you permission and encouragement to move freely and honestly. Our bodies are built around circles and operate with rhythms. When we move with greater harmony with our inner selves, we will feel ourselves becoming more natural. Duke Kahanamoku, a pro surfer and five time Olympic gold medalist, described excellence in his sport very simply: “The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.” Really, that is how it should be for each person in any walk of life.
I hope you will look at Bo Yoga as a reflection of your life, not as just another class that you are taking. How you think about the program is probably an indication of the way you think about many things. Do you have preconceived ideas of what you can or can’t get from this training? If you can be aware of your own thoughts as you practice, you may remove patterns of perception that color all parts of your life. When you are doing a posture and feeling inadequate and unhappy with yourself because you aren’t doing it as you wish, you probably have those thoughts in other parts of your life. If you are comparing yourself to the teacher or to the other students, it’s likely that this is a pattern of competition that you experience in other areas of your life as well.
Instead of seeing the class as a part of your life, try to see a part of your life in your class.
Watching your own thoughts and emotions while enjoying the physical practice will lead to greater gains in all areas of your life. If you train with this attitude, the Bo Yoga class will help you strengthen your character as well as your core, and it will strengthen the flexibility of both your mind and your body.