Falling off the Yoga Mat

Many a yogi will tell you that your mat is your temple, the place you leave your shoes outside its borders and when you step onto it, you enter into an in-between realm of who you are in this moment inserted into the process of who you are becoming.  Often, photos in yoga magazine show perfect postures of bodies bending and stretching on the mat, a knowingness of ultimate perfection of being in oneself.  But I will tell you from experience that some of the times that I have fallen off my mat is when my body shows me exactly where I am as well as where I am going.

I am a yoga teacher and there is nothing quite so humbling as falling out of pose as you are leading it to the class.  And then falling again.

Early on I took this as a sign of the necessity of practice, that I just didn’t have my yoga legs under me yet.  As I moved forward in teaching/my own practice, I began to realize that falling off my mat in front of an entire class was an important part of the process of growth for both them and me.  It showed them that everyone falls, even the teacher. It showed me to find humor and humility as a constant sidekick to kick my embarrassment off the mat.

My yoga mat offers a space into my most (im)perfect self.  It is a place where I can work within the contexts of embarrassment and shame as well as trust and compassion.  It is a place that catches me, even when I fall off of it.

And so this has also become my style of teaching-play, humor, and falling and falling and falling.  I constantly need to remind myself that the growth process is not about proving something.  Falling out of pose in front of a large class relates that perspective and I think there is an appreciation in the teacher making mistakes and owning it.

For me, this is my practice, this is my journey.  Falling, laughing, and coming back to do it all again.

What catches you when you fall?

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