Jon Kabat Zin suggests 7 attitudes to bring to mindfulness practice in his book Full Catastrophe Living, and mindfulness is equally important to a yoga practice and so I have borrowed them for our next yoga series. As Jon Kabat Zin lays them out, they are: non-judging, patience, beginner's mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance and letting-go. As he explains, they are not independent of each other but weave into each other and depend on each other. Throughout this series we will explore how these concepts relate to yoga philosophy, your yoga practice, and your life off the mat.
The first concept that we will explore in today's class relates to the yogic concept of ahimsa or nonviolence and is called non-judging. One of the first steps of mindfulness is cultivating an awareness of our moment to moment experience. Once we do this we might be somewhat surprised that we are caught in a stream of judging, criticizing and evaluating about our internal and external experiences. Mindfulness practice asks you to be aware of the incessant judging and reacting to your experiences and to step back from it. Normally you react and place value on experiences as good or bad whereas mindfulness asks you to step back as an impartial witness in a non-judging way.
In yoga, all that judging that goes on in your mind would be viewed as a form of violence that we inflict on yourself,, your circumstances and others all day long. These sorts of judgments, criticisms, and destructive comments playback in a negative feedback loop and are unhelpful. Ahimsa or nonviolence would espouse the practice of non-judgement in your thoughts words and actions as a form of self-acceptance and then to expand that practice outwards towards others.
Your yoga practice offers the perfect place to practice non-judging. You can practice non-judging in your moment to moment experience of your body in your asana (yoga posture) practice. In today's practice we will practice a pose called gomukasana (cow's face pose) which will give us the perfect opportunity to explore non-judging as you may be tempting to compare one side to the other. Also many people experience tight hips and tight shoulders and this class will give you the opportunity to let go of judgment about tightness in either of these areas of your body.
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Melissa West is a yoga instructor who helps people to surrender to peace in their lives by connecting to the vital energy within their body through breath, cultivating optimal functional movement by harnessing the power of gravity and increase overall mobility by creating more suppleness in the spine.