Adhikara – Embracing the Beginner’s Mind

In completing my first teacher training, it became very clear that, in the study of yoga, the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t yet know (“How am I ever going to learn enough?!”). A pretty daunting thought for a new teacher. I remember feeling the same way when I first started practicing yoga over ten years ago and getting into foundational poses felt like a struggle (“Will I ever be able to stay in Utkatasana without mentally screaming at the teacher to change poses already?!”).

171028_9017_dancarr-KaitWilson-YogaOf course, it’s not about learning it all or having every pose feel easy, but how can we approach the challenges yoga presents to us (both mental and physical), without feeling discouraged or frustrated?

Adhikara, or studentship, is a sanskrit term that reminds us to come to our practice (and our life) with an openness to growth and learning and a recognition that being human means to be a student, always. In each pose, we can explore what a fuller expression might mean for our own body. In each pose, we can observe our thoughts to connect more deeply to our inner self. Negative feelings might still (…ok definitely will) well up as we practice, but we can acknowledge them, learn from them, and let them go if they don’t serve our growth.

A practice that has been helpful for me recently is to remember why I started (both learning yoga and learning to teach yoga). When I step back into my intention (or sankalpa), I find more space to learn and grow. So, instead of being narrowly focused on perfecting Ardha Chandra Chipasana, I remember my personal intention to find strength and openness through engaging my body, breath, and mind. And, instead of worrying about perfectly choreographing a class, I zoom out to my teaching intention of helping others reconnect with themselves. Returning to our intention can open us up to the possibilities and excitement of learning.

And when we remember to approach our intention, whatever it may be, with a beginner’s mind, we are sure to find growth through our practice.

Honour your process. Practice with patience. Open to possibility.

What can you learn from where you are in your practice today?

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