Next time you go to a yoga class look at it as a buffet. The instructor like the chef offers you a load of possibilities and within those possibilities you pick what you’d like to do, how much you’d like to do and what modifications you want. Just like a buffet where you pick which food items, the quantity and the seasoning.
This is how any yoga class becomes healing because you are honoring what you are feeling. As this is why you have feelings, to guide you. Oh yeah one more thing: At the buffet if you overeat you don’t blame the chef it’s your fault and at your yoga class if you hurt yourself don’t blame the instructor it’s not their fault it’s your fault. Because the instructor doesn’t know how far you should go as they don’t know how the poses feel on your body. You need to back off and/or take breaks when you feel it’s appropriate and if you’re ever unsure always error on the side of gentleness as opposed to aggressiveness and certainly you will never have a problem. Just like at the Buffet better to eat a little less than too much!
This prevents you from blindly following the instructor as no instructor worth their salt would want that and necessitates you tuning into your own uniqueness (how you happen to be feeling that day). Your age, injuries, issues (physically and mentally), life events, mood and a plethora of other things are affecting you. Making progress in your yoga practice does not mean that you will go deeper into these poses, and it does not mean that your focus will be more acute. Making progress in your yoga means becoming better at assessing your needs which allows you to make more optimal decisions and the workout starts to become healing instead of just blindly pushing forward for no apparent reason other than to appease your vanity and/or your attachments to how you want things to be. Health is not a state of physical prowess it’s a state of balance and harmony.
When you practice like this your yoga practice automatically becomes a meditation as the first step in meditation is focus and concentration and this is exactly what’s necessary to assess your needs at any given moment. You also can start recognizing your judgments, criticisms, attachments and other stuff like competitiveness and reactivity. Noticing this stuff is very important towards the dismantlement of these stress inducing tendencies. As you start to notice these malevolent qualities you can then choose not to indulge. The less you indulge in these qualities the weaker these qualities become as they need your indulgence to maintain their dominance of your mentality. Now you can start to steer yourself as opposed to being steered by mental habit patterns.
The Sanskrit word “Yoga” translated into English means “to yoke”. The only reason on earth you would ever yoke some thing is to steer it. So right there in the name Yoga they are really telling you what this is all about. This is about steering yourself instead of being steered by mental habit patterns and cultural tendencies.