Is yoga just a physical thing? Is our value and our skill only limited to our physical frame? Or are we practicing to be a part of something greater than ourselves? To answer these questions and more, I invited fellow yoga teacher Shanna Small back to the show to share her perspective on our role as yogis and as yoga instructors.
If you follow Shanna on social media, then you know the work she is putting in to deconstruct the use of hierarchical language in the yoga classroom. She breaks down the differences between hierarchical and non-hierarchical language for us, and we discuss how this hierarchical queuing creates unnecessary stress in the yoga studio.
Hierarchical language can manifest in many ways. On the yoga mat, the most common instance is when you hear someone say “if you want more of a challenge, do this” or “if you’re feeling stiff today, do this”. While it may seem harmless, this kind of qualifying language inspires this idea that some poses are more important than others or, worse, that some yogis aren’t working as hard as others.
You can’t tell how hard someone is working on the yoga mat just by looking at them, and as yoga teachers, it is our job to create a space where everyone can practice yoga comfortably and safely. Shanna offers tips for teachers on how to use the right words in the classroom, and we share examples of how our teachers spoke to us back in the day. Modern language has come a long way, but there are still many steps to take on this path, and sometimes a look into the past can do our perspective some good.
The hierarchy Shanna is talking about is fueled by misinterpretation and misunderstanding of the ancient teachings of yoga. To overcome this, she reminds us to sit on the mat with a seeker’s mind. We aren’t here to show off what we know or out-pose someone, we are here to learn, to practice, and to become better human beings so that we can bring the goodness needed to make a positive change in this world.
Learn more on my blog at Kinoyoga.com, and check out my teaching schedule so you can join me for a class. Don’t forget about the Handstands for Everyone challenge that finishes up this month. Only a few more days left to get inverted!
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