Creating Yoga

Artistic rendering of the word create by Tim Mossholder
Table of Contents

When people go to a yoga class, they typically expect the instructor to teach them yoga. While this may seem utterly obvious, this is, in some respects, an unreasonable expectation.

Yoga teachers can't really teach people yoga. We can offer postures, breathwork, meditation, relaxation, and advice about how to practice, but each yoga student must find their own way. Each of us must, in a sense, teach ourselves yoga. I have met a lot of "Registered Yoga Teachers," with an RYT designation, who prefer to think of themselves as "facilitators" or "guides."

A yoga practice is similar to a writing practice in that it is not simply a prescribed sequence of events that each participant can go through. As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the leading researcher of "flow states," once put it in his famous book Flow: The Psychology of Happiness, "the point of writing is to create information, not simply to pass it along." Sometimes, when we pass along information, the process can be transformative, but most often we write simply to make sense of the randomness of life.

With yoga, like writing, we are making sense of our lives in the process of creating something. We do not move through sequences of yoga postures in yoga classes so that we can check the "do yoga" box on our TODO list. We move through the sequence of postures to challenge our bodies and attempt to understand how our minds and bodies react to the challenge. Meaning arises when we see the truth behind the false narratives that our minds tell us each moment of the day. Is that so, we ask?

So yes, we yoga teachers can lead a sequence of yoga postures and help create space where people feel safe enough to explore their own inner worlds, but we can't create the meaning. You must create your yoga.

Explore because you want to, because it feels like the right thing to do. Not because someone tells you. Don't show up to a yoga class thinking you can simply absorb the awesomeness of the yoga that the teacher is offering. Come prepared to create.