At Just Be we hold a Yoga 101 workshop every few months, and I usually get to be a part of it. I love assisting this workshop for many reasons, but mostly because it transcends it’s title of “a yoga basics” workshop.
I assisted my first Yoga 101 on accident. I happened to be at the studio, and was helping with check in for the workshop. I mentioned to Jenni that I loved the vibe of the group and it made me nostalgic for the days of TT. Much to my surprise, she asked if I wanted to assist. I hadn’t assisted a workshop before, and my first response was to honestly say I wasn’t qualified. But then I realized- why wouldn’t I have something to offer to this group? I’m a yoga teacher. I know proper alignment. But most importantly, I remember what it’s like to be a new student. I remember feeling like a newborn deer amongst graceful ballerinas, struggling to keep up and wanting to execute the movements with the grace and ease that surrounded me. I knew that if I could understand how these new yogis felt, I could be of service in some way.
I left that first Yoga 101 feeling so inspired by the people in that room. There were people who had never set foot in a yoga class, and there were 10-year veteran yogis, and all of them let go of the ego and embraced the knowledge Jenni had to offer. It’s so powerful to admit that you have more to learn, and incredibly brave to do so in a room full of strangers.
That’s why workshops are always filled with the best energy; Everyone there is committed to being fully present and aware and engaged.
Yoga 101 is a workshop that’s particularly special in that it has something to offer to everyone. At the beginning of our most recent Yoga 101, we asked the group to set an intention for the day. Each individual had a different intent, and yet every topic was effortlessly touched upon and fit with one another like the pieces of a puzzle. Some came to learn more about the philosophy of yoga. Others came to learn how to fine tune postures for their personal body. A few came because they’re scientifically oriented and needed to know the why behind alignment cues.
Every time we do this workshop, the best part is linking movement with breath and moving through the Sun Salutations. It’s always the aha moment where all the in depth asana breakdowns and long discussions on safety and modifications click and the yoga can actually begin. At the end of the day, long workshops and discussions are incredibly valuable, but moving and feeling in your own body is the best way to learn. Once you can become aware of your breath and the way your body moves through space, it all makes sense. The cues land perfectly in your body; your inhales create space where there used to be tension and uncertainty. Your exhales allow you to settle where you used to be holding yourself above ground, anxiously awaiting the next cue. Once the movement begins, the self-limiting beliefs and racing thoughts slip away to reveal the yogi we think we’re not ready to be.
The most common misconception I hear about yoga is that you have to be flexible to begin. We’ve all heard it- “Oh, I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.” I even hear it sprinkled throughout the workshop- “How would you modify that for a senior?” Or “Oh, I am not young enough to do that?” These kinds of self-limiting beliefs hold us back from seeing that yoga is about so much more than flaunting our abilities. It’s about dropping the ego, accepting where we are today, and letting it guide us to a more evolved tomorrow.
I learn something new from every Yoga 101 I attend. Sometimes, it’s subtle misalignments that have snuck into my practice. Other times it’s better ways to connect with people. But most often it’s a lesson from within. My first workshop began with a self-limiting belief: that I didn’t have enough to offer to be of service. But throughout these workshops I’ve learned that everyone has something to offer, as long as they are open enough to voice their truth and create an open dialogue. These workshops happen so organically that it takes everyone contributing to make them what they are- and if we can all drop the doubts we carry about ourselves and our abilities, we can carry that mindset with us everywhere we go.