Book Report for Yoga Teacher Training: Lasater, Judith (2000). Living Your Yoga.
Reading Living Your Yoga had a strong impact on my ongoing personal growth and transformation of yoga practice and teacher training. In particular, the chapter on self-judgement resonated with me as I’ve been through a similar journey that the author described so poignantly. She talked about the natural learning process when beginning yoga practice to include: one may need to accept imperfections (knowing that it’s completely acceptable to progress through poses rather than perfect them), develop a sense of gratitude coupled with balanced confidence (leaving our ego at the door), and let go of previous maladaptive habits (such as pushing ourselves to the limit beyond one’s comfort zone to gain benefit) (Lasater, 2000).
I’ve learned as a student and in teacher training that while I’m often skilled at listening and offering advice about self-improvement that I need to be in tune with practicing what I preach. Yoga practice helps me stay in touch with self-care, appreciate my intentions without self-judgement, and continue to challenge myself with the ultimate goal of being a genuine/compassionate being with myself and others.
I found her suggested intention of “I have tried something difficult, and I appreciate myself for trying” initially was a great challenge in my practice and during teacher training as I tend to strive toward perfection (Lasater, 2000). While at times my desire to be successful can be a tremendous strength, it can also be my greatest area for self-growth; particularly in yoga practice as it seems simply showing up to my mat ought to be credit enough at times. I’ve found that when I’m in that competitive mode (with myself; resisting comparison to others), I push myself to new limits; though often I need to check back in with my body when I’m perhaps needing a day of rest and recuperation – knowing that is perfectly natural and what may be a necessity for the moment (something new to me as a swimmer and dancer growing up – when often pushed to an unhealthy edge – in fact, I recall a coach saying ‘If you throw up after practice, you’ve done a good job’; a message I knew was misguided; though I continued to push myself as directed).
I also enjoyed the reminder of balancing out the ego and self-acceptance with the following observation (Lasater, 2000):
“I began to pay attention to how often I judged myself. I was appalled to learn that most of the time my inner dialogue was self-judgmental. But what really shook me was when I discovered something even more disconcerting: there was no way that I could be harsh toward myself and, at the same time, be compassionate to others. I realized also that the process of silently putting myself down was actually a form of egoism.”
Again, while I’m often better at recognizing these qualities in others and helping them grow beyond maladaptive stuck points, I find reminders make me a better person and mentor – giving me a desired passion to share the yoga experience with others.
Lastly the Mantras for daily living at the end of this chapter are commitments I hope to maintain as I proceed in this evolving yogi way of life: “I commit to just being myself; no pain, no pain; perfection is an illusion; I am attempting something difficult, and I appreciate myself for trying; I am perfect just as I am; am I practicing yoga or trauma yoga?; I am choosing to let go of my self-judgement now” (Lasater, 2000).
Being playful with a good sense of humor, openness and flexibility to change, and adaptability (balance with all our chakras) are qualities I continue to value in a fully developed yogi life.