Does DIYoga mean I don’t need a teacher?

DIYoga – or Do it (yourself) Yoga – is my take on the home practice of yoga. I’ve practiced indoors, outdoors, in the desert, under

A yoga class.

A yoga class. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

trees, in the snow at 20 below and in August desert heat. I’ve practiced through chronic pain, before and after hip replacement surgery, through miscarriage and on many crazy blissful days. I’ve been dedicated to teachers, I’ve gone without teachers, I’ve dabbled in styles and am a repeat subscriber to yoga video websites.

There’s no way you can do ALL of that with a teacher. Unless, maybe, you’re Julia Roberts. I’m guessing she can tote a yoga teacher around with her. But even if you could retain a teacher to be by your side through thick and thin – another person, that is – what would you be missing?

You’d be missing the moments that make us all uncomfortable: the quiet moments between poses or before you get started when you are wholly and utterly naked to yourself (figuratively). You’d be missing the opportunity to do what you keep thinking of doing in class: hold that pose a little longer, or follow it with that awesome pose your body is just calling for… but the teacher has another (also awesome) thing in mind, so you go there. You’d be missing out on listening to the wisdom of your own body.

So, do you need a teacher? ABSOLUTELY. Several. Ideally you find an in person teacher near where you live and work and you visit them regularly. Until you’ve internalized their kindness. And then keep going. But even if you have this (and many people in less populous places don’t – I know, hard to believe in the yoga saturated world, 2012), the authentic teacher is your own deepest instinct and wisdom combined. Instinct is a reminder of your already beautiful being; wisdom is the accumulation of experience peeling back the layers over that light. You need occasional substitute teachers to remind you that the teacher really is within, and that the kindness and wisdom you appreciate in “your” teacher isn’t patented by them. And sometimes you just need to shake it up.


Do you need a yoga teacher?

So DIY your yoga! Bring your practice home and discover your practice. Yoga is about inclusion, so it’s not “either-or.” But remember that your teacher isn’t yoga. You have to find that yourself.

Sandias, Warrior I Eagle Arms, or “What I learned today…”

… you don’t have to hold it all together. Really.
During an amazing multi-hands Cranio-Sacral treatment with my cranio-goddess-friend, Jeanne Gorham, I realized how I’d been holding my shoulders and hips in place – with muscular strength. And I realized how I don’t have to do that – they’re built to stay together.

And then I realized: I don’t have to hold my body together, I don’t have to hold my heart together, I don’t have to hold my world together. They’re all built to break a little, bend a little and heal a lot.

And then I heard every yoga teacher who’d ever said “now suck your armbones in,” or “hold that right there…” or “hold your breath for…” ….for WHAT? For NOTHING.

We aren’t meant to hold, we are meant to radiate.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my love-hate relationship with yoga: I love practice, I dislike the industry more and more every day. Thing is, it’s awfully hard to tell them apart.

I love practice, I love movement and hold fierce space for exploration and finding. But when bodies, hearts or minds hold, healing is what’s really called for. Let’s sling the arm, support the tears, hug the heart and engage the mind that feels like it must hold itself any certain way.

I’m a determined opponent of anything that says you must do anything that doesn’t accord with your deepest instinct. And here’s the real deal: you have to feel your deepest instinct before you know what accords with it. So I’m for all and only what supports you feeling your deepest instinct.

And I’m all for letting go, and letting the structure of my body, heart and world do what they’re there to do: unfold, reveal, disintegrate and heal.