What do you need permission for in Yoga? Do you need permission from a piece of paper that says you can teach? Did Patanjali or the Buddha have a piece of paper? How about Krishnamacharya? Is there a 200-hour meditation training under a Bodhi tree that guarantees enlightenment and a following over two thousand years?
Can you do any yoga posture you want without permission? Would your Ashtanga Mysore teacher give you a loving and accepting response if you said, “Screw this, I am done being stuck on primary series for three years, I am moving on to third series right now.”
Do you need permission to feel good while doing yoga? Or are you on the edge of pain and injury, to stretch your body into deeper pretzels in a hot room with a competitive vibe? Is your yoga practice a workout, or intelligently circulating prana and information throughout your body?
Would the world stop if you listened to your own heart, instead of the non-existent claims of power by authority figures, yoga systems, and rules? Yes, the world would stop. A world of perceptions and boundaries you created as a way to shield you from your real potential.
Escapism in Yoga
Escapism runs rampant in yoga, both sides of the spectrum yoga boxed itself into use escapism to avoid listening to the stillness and messages of the universe. Wearing the most fashionable or hippie yoga clothes, going to the most expensive studio, going to burning man, music festivals and yoga conferences, spending way too much time on social media, taking bong rips at a kirtan concert, getting a veinte sized Starbucks coffee to fuel your practice, running off to retreats or backpacking across India and not listening to yourself are all forms of escapism.
On a surface level, none of these things are bad. Wearing clothes that make you feel good is great! If your heart orientated path in yoga leads to the most expensive yoga studio in town then go! Music festivals and conferences are fantastic opportunities to learn and have fun. Social media can connect us to people globally and help keep our perspective fresh. I don’t smoke weed or partake in caffeine anymore, but years ago both of them were useful to me. Traveling and going to retreats are transformational experiences for many people.
However, when a yogi approaches any of these things from a place of neediness, then problems will occur. You do not need permission to become enlightened as you are now, connect with mother nature, create an awesome social circle, feel good about yourself or explore altered states of consciousness.
Enlightenment exists in the stillness of each moment, and if you continue to raise your vibration and release past/current negative experiences, you will find enlightenment. All you need is awareness and love for that. You don’t need permission from a guru, teacher or more information/teacher training/10 day meditation retreats to reach that.
Even if you live in the middle of New York City, you can establish a beautiful relationship with nature. Nature wants to connect with you, Trees, grass, gardens, weeds, birds, insects and sun are all accessible to you. There is no difference between being on a beach retreat in Goa/Costa Rica and in a city when you engage with the land from a place of ritual, sacred reciprocity, gratefulness, love, and awareness.
Neediness and Permission
We seek permission when there is neediness in our heart. Neediness stems from a place of not trusting reality/universe/simulation. That lack of trust manifests from a lack of self-love and unresolved trust wounds.
For a long time, I thought flexibility would stamp me a ticket to being a successful teacher. If a 6’3 guy with no dance or gymnast experience can do the splits both ways, put legs behind his head and hit sick backbends people will respect that. Five years ago, I didn’t love myself to understand that I was using flexibility as a form of escapism from feelings of inadequacy. Trust wounds from failures in school, previous sports and relationships created self-esteem issues, which created a lack of trust about my path. Instead of overcoming those challenges, I forced my body into insane postures seeking enlightenment.
I did achieve all of those advanced poses, but all it did was attract people who just cared about the asana side of yoga. My heart orientated path in yoga involves approaching yoga from an open-minded point of view, that stems from a place of love and abundance. The last few years on that path helped me grow my pranayama, meditation, and spiritual practice, and I left behind all worries about flexibility, being a respected teacher and getting authorized under Yoga Alliance or another person. A social circle that is accepting, supportive and based around growth manifested when I made that change.
What trust wounds are creating a lack of trust in your yoga journey?
What aspects of yoga are you approaching from a place of neediness?
Do you need permission to be your best self?
One of my favorite ways to transcend neediness and always seeking permission is to frame the neediness in an exaggerated way out loud. Giving yourself permission to be different, evil, a rebel (or whatever judgment you think others will bestow) through speaking, journaling and meditating is a powerful technique. Guilt, shame, and worry all seem to slip away when you say things out loud. Here are some examples framed with respect to yoga.
“I’ve spent twelve years doing yoga. I’ve read over hundred books, taken hundreds of classes, gone to amazing workshops and spent thousands of hours doing my own personal practice. How stupid of me to ever think I could teach yoga without a piece of paper from the yoga alliance.”
“I change and modify the Ashtanga sequence. I will never get the full benefits and am a betrayer to the Ashtanga lineage. How evil! The Ashtanga police should lock me up.”
“I don’t believe in gurus. I’m such a dumb rebel! By giving my power to another and putting them up on a pedestal, I am missing out on so much!”
Take the Red Pill
The freedom and joy of following your heart orientated path in yoga is endless. Whatever values you bring into your yoga practice will be your boundaries. Those values can change at any moment. What permission do you need in yoga when you’re an independent free thinker. NONE!
Our creative abilities are needed to help elevate the consciousness of yoga. The power and flow available through yoga heals deep, and if we create a more accepting, loving and open-minded yoga, future yogis won’t have to go through this vicious cycle of neediness and permission.