I’ve been reflecting on my teaching in 2017 – how it’s changed, what aspects have stayed the same, what themes came up for me over the year. One observation is that I have shifted my emphasis in class from breathing to relaxation. I think it’s time to re-emphasize the breath: how to breathe deeply, the difference types of breath, and so on. However, I do think that my focus on relaxation is here to stay.

I came across this Chinese proverb the other day: “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you really are.” And it opened up whole new window on relaxation. These words triggered the sudden understanding that when we are tense (physically, mentally), it is because we are trying to be something other than what we are – trying to be “good” or “better” in some way. Test this out for yourself. Next time you notice that your body is tense, ask yourself: who am I trying to be? what am I trying to prove? Tension arises when we try to be what we are not, and also when we try to suppress what we actually are.

Relaxation is a way of returning to who we really are. When we practice relaxation – as we do in yoga class – we reconnect to our natural state of ease. We reconnect to who we really are. We allow ourselves to just be as we are. The next step is then to infuse our actions with this relaxed state of being – which is also what we practice in yoga class! Take this practice off your mat and into your daily life, and watch your life shift in wonderful ways!

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