How can we practice Karuna (compassion) in our yoga class?
It’s an insidious force in spiritual practice…..the myth that if we just practice hard enough and long enough, our lives will be perfect. And too often Yoga is marketed as a surefire path to a body that never breaks down, a mind that never goes nuts and a heart that never breaks.
Fortunately in yoga philosophy we are taught to practice compassion in yoga classes and to view our personal issues not as failures of, or distractions from our spiritual journey but as a potent opportunity to awaken our compassion and explore and open our hearts.
As a yoga teacher I am given this opportunity on a daily basis. Yes I do have injuries that come and go and different life situations that need a little more attention and compassion. It’s funny what the stereotype of a yoga teacher is and that because we are teachers we don’t get sick, we don’t get angry and we don’t eat chocolate . Wrong.
When we practice Karuna we are invited to breath through our pain and others without drawing away or guarding our hearts. So in a yoga class situation we can transform the way we habitually relate to pain and suffering. We can use our bodies as tools to help refine and enhance our ability to feel, peeling away the layers of insulation in the body and mind that prevent us from sensing what is actually going on in the present moment. We learn how to relax the body by breath observation and move into the sensations, having compassion for our bodies and not pushing our way through our practice, rather softening our jaws and bellies even when our leg muscles feel like they are on fire. We can learn how to welcome different emotions offering compassionate attention – whether it’s a throat tight with sorrow or the inability to speak the truth, a stomach that is tied up in knots with fear or anxieties that rob us of energy and zest.
During my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training we will be working on the different layers of yoga asana and philosophy which will be a big part of your own self enquiry and personal development.