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Follow The Feel Good

I traveled to Asheville this weekend to attend a workshop with David Williams at Asheville Yoga Center. Let’s start with a quick background on David. In a nutshell, he brought ashtanga yoga to the United States and trained many of today’s well-known teachers.

David has practiced ashtanga daily since 1971 and he travels around the country now hosting workshops about how to practice yoga for life. He was the first westerner to become a student of Pattabhi Jois (the founder of ashtanga yoga) in Mysore, India and learned the complete ashtanga system from him.

David is 60 years old now and lives in Hawaii where he still maintains a daily ashtanga practice.

I wish I could have attended the whole four-day workshop but it was a blessing to do the Saturday portion. It was so refreshing and reenergizing to hear David talk and to practice alongside a roomful of ashtangis who were there just for the yoga. It wasn’t about how hot the studio was (we had the doors open and a breeze blowing in) or who had on the cutest outfit (Lululemon was few and far between) or who had the best practice (we were all so focused on our own practice and breath). It was amazing.

I learned so much in my short time with David but the thing I want to share with you and the thing I shared with my yoga class this morning is to “follow the feel good.” Simply put, yoga isn’t about being super flexible or having a beautiful practice, it’s about honoring your body, focusing, breathing and feeling good. He encouraged us that we could practice every day for the rest of our lives if we adhere to this statement.

David said that the majority of yoga injuries happen in the first two years of practice. When you’re new to yoga and feeling like you have something to prove and like you’ll be a better yogi if you can just get deeper into poses. He likened it to those who begin running, run a marathon six months later, get injured and quit running. This isn’t what yoga is about. It’s about dropping the ego and just being you on your mat. Doing good things for your body and for your mind. Getting to the end of practice and feeling prana (life force). Leaving your mat and going out into the world with that prana.

So when people say, “I’m not flexible enough to practice yoga,” it’s not true. Yoga is available to everyone. Yoga is not about looking the best in the pose. It’s about linking movement and breath. Listen to your body. If it hurts, don’t do it. This applies not only to yoga but to all sports. You don’t prove anything by pushing through the pain. The only thing that you’re doing is setting yourself up to NOT be able to do the thing you love for life.

Thank you to David Williams for a beautiful and inspiring day. I am so grateful for my practice. It has changed my life.

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Amy March 25, 2012, 8:56 pm

    “This isn’t what yoga is about. It’s about dropping the ego and just being you on your mat. Doing good things for your body and for your mind. Getting to the end of practice and feeling prana (life force). Leaving your mat and going out into the world with that prana.”

    SO TRUE. This really hits home for me — I’m pregnant right now and this has changed my practice in a really profound way. I’ve come out of that “something to prove” place and am experiencing yoga in a whole new way. Great post.

  • 2
    Holly @ Pink-Runner.com March 25, 2012, 9:20 pm

    What a pretty building! I am so jealous of all the cool yoga studios in your area!

  • 3
    Holly March 25, 2012, 10:01 pm

    Very cool Jen! Sounds like a great experience.

  • 4
    Krystina (Krystina Zena) March 25, 2012, 10:19 pm

    What a beautiful practice with a beautiful message.

    I have to say, I fall into the “I’m not good enough” trap in yoga more often than I’d like. With teacher training coming up soon, I often wonder if I’ll be good enough to teach, if the other students will be more advanced, and if I don’t have the right body for yoga. But, I try to dismiss those thoughts and enjoy my time on the mat and let myself be proud of my accomplishments. It is difficult sometimes, though.

  • 5
    Shay @ Whine Less, Breathe More March 25, 2012, 11:10 pm

    So true! I find I enjoy yoga class so much more if I just close my eyes and tune everyone else out. For me, I have to stop “competing” with everyone else around me.

  • 6
    Amy March 26, 2012, 5:59 am

    It sounds like you had a wonderful experience! I have to say, it is so easy to compare yourself to others in yoga, and this happens to me at times. Just a week or so ago, there was a girl in class that was the most flexible person I have ever seen in my life. Any pose we did she just went right into totally effortlessly. She said she has a dance background. But, it made me feel so inadequate. Then I put a positive spin on it and told myself that I have so much to work towards and look forward to in my practice 🙂 It might not be so fun for me if I didn’t!

  • 7
    Sierra @ Posh Meets Pavement March 26, 2012, 9:04 am

    So inspiring. It seems like yoga really made everything “click” for you in your life. What a wonderful feeling.

    Now checking the yoga schedule for this afternoon…

  • 8
    Winnie March 26, 2012, 9:06 am

    I love love love this post. So glad that you had an amazing experience in Asheville.

  • 9
    Mattie @ Comfy and Confident March 26, 2012, 9:24 am

    That sounds so fun! I would love to do something like that. Yoga is such a great workout and way to relax for me.

  • 10
    Kamaile March 26, 2012, 10:16 am

    What a nice thing to read on a Monday morning! Had my green smoothie too. 🙂

  • 11
    Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers March 26, 2012, 3:04 pm

    I’ll take any excuse to hop over to Asheville. It’s such a nice getaway!

  • 12
    Chelsea March 26, 2012, 11:11 pm

    What an amazing post! You couldn’t have picked a better time to post this. I just wrapped up weekend 5 of my yoga teacher training. I’m studying Baptiste Power Yoga, but you’ve definitely inspired me to give Astanga a chance. Sometimes in the midst of training I forget why I started – because I LOVE YOGA! I love “the feel good.” Ahh I could’ve had said it better myself.

  • 13
    Meaghan@ChooseYourJourney March 27, 2012, 9:38 am

    Gah! David Williams is so incredible. I’m jealous!

  • 14
    Sarah March 28, 2012, 8:30 am

    I’ve been doing yoga on and off for years but I after going to a few hot yoga classes I have fallen in love with it all over again. Sounds like you had such an awesome experience with David Williams. So cool you were able to do that!

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