There is a fable about six blind men who are introduced to an elephant. Each man touches a different part of the elephant and based on that, thinks he knows what it looks like. The man who touches the ear is certain that the animal is like a hand fan. The one who touches the tail proclaims that it looks like a rope. And so it goes with each of the six men having a totally different experience and descriptions of the same thing.
Like the blind men, most yoga teachers, myself included, err on the side of teaching only from their own body and perspective. If we continue teaching over a long period of time, our own physical experience will change. We might shift to another part of the elephant and start teaching from an entirely different point of view.
For 2 ½ decades I have been intensively studying alignment-based methods of Hatha Yoga so that I might understand the bodies of my students and better assist them with their own practice. What keeps me passionate in this work is constantly finding that there is still so much more to learn.
Recently I have had some challenges with one of my shoulders. Injury has always been a great teacher for me, helping me broaden my awareness. With my understanding of anatomy and alignment, and guidance from the specialists I have seen, I have been able to work constructively with this recent pain and have had some great new insights for helping others. Dealing with pain forces us to pursue new directions and it is in the midst of working with it that we find our most profound growth.
With every passing year, I am even more grateful for my practice. Like the blind men in the story, I used to see yoga from only my vantage point. In having its way with me, Yoga has opened my eyes moment by moment to a broader understanding physically, emotionally and spiritually. I hope to see you on the mat soon so we can continue our ever evolving journeys together.