I have just read this book. I’m not even going to mention the title because I’m fairly convinced it’s the most awful yoga book I’ve ever read.
Why you ask? The shoulds.
Have you heard the term ‘negging’? It refers to making someone feel bad about themselves so they will do what you want.
I counted the word should TWO HUNDRED times in a book that barely made 300 pages, including the foreword, introduction, and title spacer pages. This was a huge red flag that negging was going on - as yoga teacher Cora Wen says,
‘Everything after ‘should’ is just violence.’
Because if you tell someone they should do or feel a certain thing, you are implying that what they are doing or feeling right now is somehow inadequate. It’s a form of marketing, yes, but not one we choose to employ in our work.
We mmyogis are committed to helping people realise that they are ok just as they are and to giving them tools to live more comfortably.
But NOT starting from the idea that they are not somehow broken or inadequate. I’ll be monitoring my own language to make sure I don’t use that little ‘should’ word - or at least minimise it.
My students do not have to do anything because I tell them to.
They can assess the benefits for themselves, because they are whole and sovereign beings.
As Amy Matthews says, in reference to why certain benefits were ascribed to certain asanas in the ancient texts:
’I suspect that what happened was that someone explored them and said, "Oh, I had this experience! You will have the same experience," maybe from some assumption that we both respond the same way to things. But you and I, we don't have the same bodies. We don't have the same sensation when we do a forward bend. So it's an interesting question about why we assume other people have the same experience, and I think there's a lot of really kind and helpful impulse behind that wanting to help you, and this helped me, so if you do this, this will help you. But it takes away sometimes someone else's agency.’
Telling people they should have a certain experience or do a certain thing takes away their agency to explore their own experience, to figure out what works for them, and to experience their purnam, wholeness, as humans - which Nadine talked about here.
As a yoga teacher, it’s my job just to offer tools, as I mentioned before. I can help people with their mechanics but I still need them to tell me what they feel and what seems to be working for them. There are universal principles yes, but they need to be modified for each person.
You are great as you are, promise.
It’s fine to explore ways of being more comfortable in your life, and it’s also good to accept that there will be times when you may experience pain, or sadness, or other hard things. Thats’s what being human is.