What is weakness?
When I was teaching as part of a June Immersion Yoga Teacher Training, I had the opportunity to do feedbacks for the trainees. I enjoyed this for two reasons: I love to talk, and I love to be inspired. I am most inspired when I'm in other yoga classes for different sequences, transitions, or themes.
Usually when I'm thinking of a theme for my class, it originates from my daily activities or whatever issue I might be facing at that moment. I try to switch it up and talk about various topics from time to time, and I was inspired for a theme by the following quote...
You can always go to child's pose at any time, remembering that taking rest is not weakness, but rather a sign of humility.
This quote really struck me. I see students looking around the class all the time to see what everyone is doing--are other people resting? are they doing handstands? what should I do? Although I prompt intuitive movement and honoring your body, many people want a more concrete answer, so they follow the crowd. Often, the crowd does not take rest, but rather pushes harder, does an arm balance, or pursues their umpteenth vinyasa. Because when you think about our society today, rest is seen as a luxury. "Oh, I wish I had time to take a nap." "I only got four hours of sleep last night because I'm just so busy." We don't prioritize rest. We often take our cues from those around us--if everyone is busy, we should be busy too right? If everyone does a certain pose, we should do it too right?
What I love to see in my classes, is the trend of rest. Some instructors shine in a more intense environment, they are the ones who keep you holding that plank for just another second longer. I do not thrive in this environment as a teacher. It could be seen as a weakness, but I see it as my strength. I promote restoration, relaxation, and revitalization. I see yoga as a healing modality for the body, mind, and soul, and I teach from that belief. As a consequence, I feel wonderful when everyone is still in savasana, our ultimate place of rest and release. I feel humbled by everyone's ability to allow themselves to be exactly who they are. This can be seen in other humbling poses like child's, forward fold, or hip openers.
We should not see rest as weakness, but rather strength. Strength to know when we've had enough, when our body needs a break, when our mind needs space, or when our soul needs gentle healing. There is a concept in yoga called Isvarapranidhana, or surrender to the higher. We are not weak for needing rest, but rather surrendering to our higher, whether that is God, our higher self, or something else. What better way to become stronger, than to take time to rebuild and try again?