Inner Teacher, Outer Teacher

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Some days I feel like I know what I want, what I need.  I can decide which tea to have, know I’m craving some sweet potatoes for lunch.  Other days I don’t know if I want to stay in my bed all day or be outside all day… call my friends or just sit around and do nothing.  It seems that decisiveness is a whimsical quality for me.

On the days that I don’t know what to do for my body – when I can’t even get myself out on a walk (or the weather is not cooperating), I do my best to get myself to a yoga class (or dance/barre/pilates).  I let another person decide what I need to do next.  I trust an external teacher to show me the way to a pose, a theme, or a skill.  And if I can’t find a yoga class in person, I pull out my computer or TV and find something to watch as I move on my mat.  I let go of control and of trying to know what I need and I can still be listening and learning in my body.  Does this pose feel okay for me right now?  Do I need to make any adjustments to the order of poses or the level?  Do I need to take a break and just be with my body and breath?

These questions are also good practice for the rest of my life.  When I’m in the business of a day – either on my schedule or one determined by my boss, family, etc., I can be asking these same questions.  Does this situation/conversation/task give me space to fully and freely self express with love?  What emotions or physical limits am I bringing to this situation (like poor sleep or emotions from other areas of my life)?  Do I need to communicate any of my needs?  Do I need to take a breath (or 100!) and step back to get some perspective?  All these questions can help me get back to being the person I want to be, the one I know I can be, in all situations.  A human full of compassion, acceptance, love, and cooperation.  This is my offering of self.  This is respecting, saluting, that great self in me.

Anjali mudra (hand posture) is for contemplating what you need in a day.  Bring your two hands together in front of your heart, a sign of a prayer, an offering, a salute.  The reminder that we have two types of teachers in our lives – the external (our friends and family, our lives, our yoga videos) and the internal (that still small voice, the call to live love, our best self).  And I am so grateful to learn from both.

Practice this mudra in a comfortable sitting position.  Breathe slow and deep through your nose.  Close your eyes.  Bring your hands together in front of your heart with your thumbs nestled to your chest.  Feel the rise and fall of your breath in your ribcage.  Send gratitude to all the teachers in your life, including yourself!

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On days when you need an external teacher to help you tune in to the inner teacher, here are some audio/video resources:

Lesley Fightmaster

Christina Sell Yoga

Chair Yoga Video

Guided Meditations

Yoga Journal article on Anjali Mudra