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Grow your own relationship with yoga

Can you grow a relationship with yoga? Many people don’t think of yoga as something you can actually learn. That is probably because a lot of what we see in advertising makes us think that yoga is an exercise for people who are already flexible and some how intuitively already know what they are doing.

The mission at College Hill Yoga is to teach students how to practice yoga. In the weekly classes the students are introduced to poses and philosophy. In their personal practice they can try out what they’ve learned.

We help you start

Many people have difficulty getting started in their personal practice. Because of this struggle we have online resources (videos, handouts, etc) to help everyone get going and move along. The hope is that the online resources can help answer some of the questions that inevitably arise when practicing on your own. Think of these practice resources like training wheels. When first learning to ride a bike you often need someone to help get your balance. After awhile the helper steps aside to see if you can balance on your own.

Balancing on your own doesn’t mean you are expert at it. Anytime you take on a new pursuit you are likely to be a little clumsy. That’s okay and it’s to be expected. Don’t worry about being clumsy. Instead, just get started and try to keep at it.

When you are new you haven’t yet established your own relationship with yoga. When you first come you are learning where you like to park, where to place your your belonging and how the classes start. Then you try to attend a few weekly classes in a row so you get the bare minimum introduction. This is not a relationship with yoga–yet. This is just a new person trying to determine if yoga is for them. After all, there is a lot of hype about yoga in advertising / marketing. So, the new student has to sift through all of that hype before they see what we are trying to do in the classes.

A relationship with yoga = A relationship with yourself

After all of the preliminary steps of learning the class descriptions and schedule, deciding which class you will attend and make time for, then the relationship can begin. Cultivating a relationship with yoga is just like the cultivation of any other relationship.

Let’s say you meet someone you think is nice and they ask you to go on a coffee date. During your first few dates you ask each other questions about your life. After several dates you don’t have to ask the same questions because you already know the answers. So you ask new ones, based on the previous answers. Over time you get a picture of what the person is like.

In yoga you start out learning what the poses are–in a general way. Then, over time, you start to understand more. You start to remember “oh, I did this pose last week and it felt such-and-such way but this week it is different, I wonder why”. In your practice or in class you can explore why the pose is different this week compared to last. From week to week you build a relationship with yoga and yourself.

Grow your relationship with yoga
Through my consistent practice experience I recently determined that my headstand needs a little support.
Grow your relationship with yoga
I will probably be practicing this way until it’s clear the extra support is no longer needed.

Learning is empowering

Yoga is empowering because learning is empowering. There should be some aspect of your practice where you don’t need a teacher–because you know in your bones the answer to some of your questions. When you know something for certain there is no doubt in your head, which is a relief. Doubt is one of the main obstacles to practicing and it causes a lot of problems. But if you stick with it your doubt will gradually diminish and you will begin to know yourself.

We learn not only what yoga is but how to be a student of yoga. Learning how to be a student is the key to cultivating your relationship with yourself.

Even teachers should have teachers. I have had the same teachers for many years. My main teacher, Laurie Blakeney, director of the Ann Arbor School of Yoga, has been invaluable to helping me along the path. So, find your class and your teacher and then make your commitment to growing your relationship with yoga–and yourself. Freedom comes only when you know yourself.

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