Practicing Openness: A Tale from the Yoga Mat

I’ve practiced yoga on and off for over ten years and whenever I return to it I’m reminded of how much my mind, body and soul love it.

I’m also discovering how the journey to my mat brings me unexpected lessons. Last week’s lesson came to me in a Parsvottanasana-like pose. In the hot class, we do a variation of this pose where we touch our forehead to our knee, creating compression. There I was in the pose, breathing away noisily, when Leo came around and adjusted my hips a bit.

My initial reaction to the adjustment was that I wasn’t doing it perfectly. I saw the correction as a negative. How fascinating! Here I have the gift of a teacher coming over to help me further in my practice and my emotional response is one of failure. It reminded me of a colleague’s saying: “feedback, not failure”.

What an opportunity for me to reframe my thoughts on being corrected, of receiving feedback. Of course we all like to believe that we’re gracious and welcoming of feedback, but on my yoga mat my response proved to be, um, a little less open.

When I headed to my next class I took a moment to pause and mentally set the intention to welcome any adjustments I might experience that class. To take it as a gift, as an invitation to explore something different on the mat. To even look forward to a correction – instead of hoping my practice didn’t need it. A big-but-tiny mental shift that created space for a little more joy on my mat. Yeah!

Where might you be reacting to feedback negatively? Can you reframe your thoughts and look for the invitation in the experience?