I have been talking a lot about perspective in my classes lately. Because of its versatility, it's a pretty easy topic to apply to yogic philosophy and ideas. You can refer to perspective in terms of the physical practice—for instance, inversions: teachers are often suggesting to change your perspective by turning your world upside down.
Then there's the perspective gained through meditation—simply taking a moment out of your day to try and quiet your thoughts is a way to gain instant perspective on the state of your mind. Or possibly more specifically, your "monkey mind" a turn-of-phrase which refers to the never-ending chatter that becomes evident the second you try to turn off the mind.
Today I am referring to the perspective gained by attending a new class. After six years of yoga practice, three of those years being very persistent in daily practice, I often feel as though I "have it down." Just writing that made me see how ridiculous it is--yoga takes a lifetime of practice! Nonetheless, the ego is strong-willed and at times I feel quite confident about my yoga asana abilities.
This morning I attended an Anusara Level I class.
After six years, it's pretty easy for me to assume that a Level I class is something I can enjoy with relative ease. This class proved me wrong. It's been years since I've had a teacher so 'on my case' about every pose I performed—Downward Dog, Tadasana, and Bhujangasana to name but a few—I seemed to be doing each and every one of them incorrectly—or less than perfectly is probably a more precise definition. As the class went on and more and more corrections were suggested to me, I started to lose confidence in my knowledge of these beginning level poses—my notions about alignment and energy flow were being greatly shaken.
But I had committed myself, before class even started, to keeping my ego in check and approaching this new style with an open mind. I dutifully performed every correction given (whether or not I felt it was right) and was attentive to the teacher's yogic ideas.
I can't say for sure that anything about the class changed the way that I'll teach or practice in the future, but I can say that my willingness to change my perspective about the way to teach a yoga class or to take a yoga class is a step forged ahead in my own path. Trying new methods of anything—be it yoga, breathing, eating, living!—is bound to form new neural pathways in the brain, making it easier for us to be willing to try out a change in perspective again.