“Comparison is the thief of happiness” Brene Brown quoting her friend Laura Williams.
All yoga is good yoga.
Ashtanga yoga was my first love. I started doing yoga in 1995 at Jivamukti on 2nd Avenue in NYC and ashtanga changed my life forever. I had always wanted to be an athlete and now here I was doing physical tricks that I would never have imagined possible.
There was a downside to my ashtanga practice though—I belittled anyone who did a different form of yoga. I would meet someone on the street who practiced Iyengar yoga and I would look at them like they were Martians.
Then I got hurt, had a bunch of knee surgeries and found my way to Anusara Yoga where I learned a whole lot about alignment and began my study of anatomy. I didn’t learn anything about decency as I simply switched my allegiance and thought that anyone who did another form of yoga was silly. And I told them so: “There is no better system of yoga! The universal principles of alignment are the ultimate genius!”
After a couple of years I got off of the Anusara train as well and began to look at yoga from a slightly different perspective. And the new approach is that “It is all good”. For some reason my Mother hates that phrase, one of my favorites. It is all good simply because it is. And that goes for yoga systems as well. All yoga is good yoga. The system that resonates with a student is the best system. Whatever gets you to the mat is the best possible yoga for you.
That said, I often tell type A people who gravitate towards ashtanga that a little of that Sivananda yoga ease might serve them well, and Type C people (did I make that up?), should probably go and do some ashtanga.
The practice has nothing to do with the system the practice has all to do with the student. It didn’t matter what form of yoga I did, the learning was in letting go of thinking I was right or knew better. Any form of yoga can trap you or free you.
I fit very neatly into Dharma Mitra’s quote that I have used before:
…students should have a teacher available. The guru has gone to route. He or she knows the journey and is able to guide others. He or she will know which poses are good for you and which to avoid. As students grow spiritually and improve their mental patterns they’ll attract better teachers. Unfortunately there are many certified yoga instructors today who don’t know anything about yoga. But students needn’t worry—everything has a divine purpose. Instructors who don’t know anything attract students who don’t deserve the truth yet. There is a natural order to the world.
I have a funny feeling that fifteen years later I am still in the category of a student who doesn’t deserve the truth. The truth is really hard to come by and accept.