I just saw a post on social media of someone being forcefully pushed into an asana by a man with a nice, big and round pot belly. This stirs many thoughts in my usually empty and quiet mind.
Yoga is not about beautifully getting into the perfect position so we shouldn’t ever force our bodies with a strong outside push just to fluff our ego. This is where physical damage takes place. What is the point in this? It benefits you in no way except aesthetically and actually defeats the purpose of an asana/yoga practice. The whole point of yoga is to accept where you are at this present moment and reflect and embrace yourself as such. We want to tear away from the ego, not feed it. Yoga is a mental practice more than a physical practice and we simply use the physical practice to help bring the focus inward to the mind. The body is your vehicle and we shouldn’t get hung up on how far it can bend and move. Flexibility is merely a side effect of your yoga practice.
That being said..
Clearly a man with no connection to his own abdomen has no idea how to move from his core, which is where all movement should begin. He couldn’t even begin to get into the pose he’s pushing this person into and this is a recipe for disaster. Yes, this man might be a yogi/sage/guru/teacher and he has surpassed asana and moved further into his consciousness awakening practice deep in the workings of his mind. Then, in my opinion, that is what he should be teaching. I have heard so many stories of people who have gone to practice with such teachers only to have their knees blown out or some other deep physical injury on their quest for physical yogic perfection.
Ahimsa, or non violence, as taught in yoga is not only in regards to non violence to others but also to yourself, both mentally and physically. This sort of obsession with getting into the perfect position is just that, violent. You are actually encouraging the ego to make yourself look better and you are giving power to it instead of taking it away. In yoga we try to be the observer so when you catch yourself trying to push farther into a pose take a moment to reflect back and think ‘Why am I doing this to myself?’ Am I truly trying to quiet my mind to connect with my True Self? That is the only goal and should be the constant question in the mind of any seeker.
We are all guilty of looking around the room and comparing ourselves to others when we are in class but to allow that feeling of not being good enough to come forth in your asana practice is something that should always be avoided. Welcome yourself on the mat ever time you start your practice and embrace who, where and what you are at the very moment. Confront the ego, don’t bow down to it. You are the guru!