Beginner's Mind

At the beginning of each new year I choose a word to guide my actions and choices. This year my word was curiosity. With that word guiding me, I’ve been exploring different types of movement practices like Functional Range Conditioning, and natural movement, as well as strength training classes at my local YMCA - things that have piqued my curiosity. I love moving my body and seeing how new ways of movement challenge my body and brain. It’s not only fun and engaging to move in new ways, but also refreshing. While some of the movements seem similar to yoga poses, they feel different because I’m engaging my muscles differently.

I also took an online course in corrective exercise - something else I've been curious about for a while. It was super interesting, but at first I felt a little in-over-my-head and intimidated as the course was mostly for folks who were personal trainers. Many of the exercises that were being taught were ones you would incorporate into a personal training session, so I felt like I had to translate much of what I was learning into my yoga language. After a few months, however, I realized that I already knew a lot of the information from my anatomy studies, and that in the end, we were looking at the same body, just through a slightly different lens.

Now that I’ve completed the course, I realize the discomfort and confusion I felt was actually good for me:

  • I was there to learn something new, so of course there would be many things that I didn’t know…duh! That’s why I was there.
  • Moving out of my comfort zone, while scary, is actually important for learning.
  • It reminded me of what it’s like to be new at something – to be a beginner, which was a wonderful insight for me to have as I teach a weekly Beginners yoga class. As a teacher of yoga I ask my students to move their bodies into new and interesting positions that challenge their strength, balance, and awareness all the time. I’d forgotten that this could cause them to feel a little, or maybe a lot, out of their comfort zone. What a great reminder for me to keep breaking poses down into smaller, less challenging chunks, so that my students can just move a little toward their edge without going over it.
  • I got to be a student again, which I love. There is something so wonderful to me about being a student. I love learning and realizing that there is never a point when learning really stops!
Here are a few things I’ve been contemplating – maybe you’d like to too:

What does it feel like when you try something new or do something you usually do in a new way? Is it freeing, fun, scary, intimidating? Does it open you up to curiosity and playfulness or judgment and doubt?

What if every time you stepped onto your mat you looked at it as a time to learn something new about yourself?

Please share your thoughts on our Facebook page – I would LOVE to hear them!

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