Yoga: Are you a poser?

What would you think if I called you a poser? Isn’t everyone who practices yoga a poser? Or are we? I guess that Tree Posedepends on how you define poser. I’m thinking of it in 2 ways:

  1. a person who aligns their body into yoga poses
  2. a person who acts like something they aren’t

From my perspective, we all start out being both. Now you might be saying, wait just one minute missy, I love yoga. I’m no poser! Let me explain.

Can you remember when you first stepped on a yoga mat? For me, it was at Innerlight yoga studio in Newport, RI. It was 1996. This was a traumatically whirlwind year for me. I started a new job as a software engineer with IBM. I had recently moved to Rhode Island, having renovated a small cottage on the Sakonnet River with my husband. It was to be our dream home. It was also the year my husband died of leukemia. Looking back, I don’t know how I made it through that challenging year.

I have to credit yoga with helping me find strength. I knew I needed to move, get out of my grief and into my body. Flowing in and out of yoga poses helped me connect with my body and stay grounded. I was a poser according to definition 1. I was also a poser according to definition 2 because I didn’t yet appreciate how the asana practice could benefit me on other levels. It wasn’t intentional. I had an open mind, but my mind and body weren’t yet integrated. Isn’t this where we all start? You try yoga and it seems to fit you. You feel better physically so you go back, perhaps with a curiosity about the depths you can take your practice.

It wasn’t until 2005, when I committed myself to a regular practice, that I started to understand definition 2. I fell head over heels for Ashtanga Primary Series. David Swenson was a frequent visitor to my home. Well, actually to my living room in DVD format, but he was an inspiration nonetheless.

With a regular practice, our bodies get used to yoga poses. There is less need to plan how to transition through and hold poses. Your body and mind know what’s coming so the mind gets a little quieter.  Some brain cycles are freed up for other purposes.

So what’s a yogi to do with these extra brain cycles? They can be shift from the future (planning) to the present (feeling) allowing you to become more mindful about your entire physical, emotional and spiritual experience. This integration is what yoga is about. We reconnect to our divine perfect selves. In those integrated moments, definition 2 no longer applies. You aren’t pretending. You are a yogi.

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