How Smart Yoga Changed My Practice
Categories: Bodywork & Somatics Fitness & Sports Health & Healing
When I became the project editor for Smart Yoga, I was in a yoga teacher-training program, and I had been practicing yoga daily for five years. After reading Smart Yoga, my initial response was a sense of despair. I’ve been doing everything wrong! I thought. This pose is dangerous. That adjustment is incorrect. But once the initial panic settled, I absorbed David Moore’s advice and reflected on how I could apply his insights to my own practice.
I’ve always prioritized correct alignment in my practice, but off the yoga mat, I’m not as conscious of my body’s alignment or my coordination. As I read Smart Yoga, I realized that my attention to body alignment can’t solely exist within my yoga practice. In order to care for my body, I also need to think about my posture and coordination off the mat.
Yoga is an ongoing practice that relies on muscle memory. Unfortunately, if we learn a pose incorrectly, or in a variation that is not beneficial to our body, our muscle memory can become harmful. I often find myself going into autopilot on the mat and using my muscle memory when I’m doing poses that I’ve done for years. However, when I learn a new pose, I’m hyperaware of my body and move into the pose slowly in order to avoid injuries. Reading Smart Yoga made me realize that I have to stay aware of my body in every pose, not just the ones that I’m learning for the first time.
A key lesson in Smart Yoga is the importance of self-advocacy. Within a yoga space, it’s tempting to go with the flow of the class and try to keep up, even if your body is telling you otherwise. I’ve become more conscious of what feels good on the mat and slowed down my pace, even if the rest of the class is moving faster.
During the brainstorming sessions for Smart Yoga’s title, I was hesitant about using the word “smart.” I didn’t want to offend potential readers by implying that they’re incorrectly practicing yoga if they don’t read this book. But the biggest takeaway from Smart Yoga is that the wisdom of yoga comes when you make your practice your own. This sentiment is best stated in the foreword, which is written by Alexander teacher Pedro de Alcantara:
Tags: David Moore
Yoga, too, is a fountain of wisdom. But the wisdom of yoga will come to you only if you make your own decisions as regards to yoga. Will I stand on my head? I don’t have to. It may be a good idea or not. I might try it if the conditions are right. ‘My’ yoga is wise precisely because it’s mine.