Last Sunday night as I was taking Lara Brunns class at the Iyengar institute in NYC, I experienced quite a shock; after class, a fellow student complimented my practice! It took me by such surprise, my mouth actually dropped open and I blurted out something like “Oh my gosh, you’re kidding!”. After a moment, I regained my composure, thanked her, and was busy getting around to changing the subject as quickly as possible. Of course this exchange left me thinking about a few things: Why is it so hard to accept a compliment? Why don’t we compliment each other more? And why does yoga practice inherently make us feel like we are always “not getting” something we need to be “getting”? Of course, this could just be me, or a hangover from my dancing days, but I suspect not.
The next day I was still thinking about these questions and wondered whether the analytic nature of Iyengar yoga, which places great value on structure and form promotes this perfectionist mindset more than other types of yoga. I know that I am drawn to that rigor but does that very rigor camouflage the importance of the spiritual dimension?
Kevin Garder, an old teacher of mine, one said that a yoga practice without the spiritual depth was a great detriment to the practitioner: and he would wryly shrug and say, “Oh well…”. Reflecting on this, I see that another way towards a kinder self-practice is to continue to move towards self compassion and to keep rethreading the spiritual depth of Yoga.