Select Page

I’ve been practicing and teaching yoga for a long-a$$ time–like 20 years–and I get this question at least once a week. More if I’m getting close to a new session of teacher training.

{Clears throat}….Please allow me to ascend to my soapbox for the duration of this blog.

Whether I’m talking to a person who has maybe heard of the word yoga yet never taken a yoga-asana class, or a practitioner who is thinking about taking teacher training, the same look of concern crosses their faces.

“I can’t do all those CRAZY things…”

Things = Poses


Poses = Yoga

The word YOGA is a Sanskrit wording meaning “to yoke” or “to unite.” The fancy Sanskrit word for those crazy things (i.e. poses) is asana. Two totally different words. Two totally different meanings.

The practice of YOGA is more about reaching a certain state of being, a state of union between you and GUS (God, Universe, Spirit) and there are many, many ways to achieve that state of being.

Think: All Roads Lead to Rome.

The practice of poses (or asanas) is simply ONE road that will take you there, and that might be your favorite route. But what if you don’t like poses, does that mean you can’t ever practice yoga or achieve a state of union?

That is where I get miffed…not practicing asana does not mean you’re not practicing yoga.

I’m not bashing asanas either

In America at least, we live our lives in a 0 to 60 mentality, racing to get to the next destination. We hardly take vacations. We rarely take breaks. We sleep like crap. Our minds and bodies are desperately seeking a pit stop from the Autobahn of our daily lives.

Asana-yoga, a physical yoga also known as hatha yoga, helps us transition from the busyness of our minds into the quietness of our bodies. Physical movement clears our muscles and mind of distractions, fatigue, stress, tightness, soreness, anxiety (and a whole lot more) to put us in a frame of mind to relax and unite.

Asana-yoga gives us physically-oriented Westerners a place to start.

Here’s the deal about asana-yoga. There are tons and tons of different styles out there. Some fast, some slow. Some challenging, some restorative, some  yummy, and some yucky. If you take a asana-yoga class somewhere and hate it–don’t judge all asana classes on that one.

And don’t judge the whole of YOGA based on that one asana class you took either. That’s like hating all Tex-Mex food because you didn’t like the fajitas at one particular restaurant.

Don’t give up on a studio because you didn’t like one class. Try several dishes before you move-on to the next Tex-Mex restaurant.

This is directed to potential yoga teachers

Your biggest concern also is being able to DO all the poses in order to teach the poses. Understanding the basic postures is a great start, but it’s not the only focus in teaching. There’s no test or try-out that requires you to stand on your head or contort your body to prove your credibility as a teacher.

Most students cannot DO those crazy postures, and in fact, are just as intimidated by them as you are.

I understand there are some YTT programs out there primarily focused on the postures and I respect all lineages of yoga teaching. I try to give equal measure to the three main components of hatha yoga: breathing, postures, and meditation.

If you only taught breathing and meditation to people you’d still be teaching “yoga,” and that is really the hardest concept for people to wrap their heads around.

And to all a goodnight

I think it’s time we give some air-time to the softer side of YOGA–the curvy bodies, the inflexible boomer babies, the philosophy that grounds us, mindful meditation, deep soulful breathing, and the asana classes that make you go Ahhhh… instead of Argghh!

{Soapbox descended.}

P.S. People’s second biggest concern when practicing yoga? Not farting in yoga-asana class.