Trikonasana – sketch by Emily Sloat Shaw
    For the longest time I have been amazed and sometimes perplexed by the vast number of ways to teach and perform asana.  There are factions who teach yoga from a perspective of fluidity being paramount – not concerning about alignment but rather concerned only with the feeling of life force moving in the body.  Other equally valid perspectives include those clearly invested in the importance of alignment, biomechanics, meditation and chakras.  And within each of these perspectives there are endless variations.  How does a practitioner know what way to practice or what guidelines to follow in performing asana?

A key moment came to me not long ago when I found myself “caught in my head” about doing trikonasana (triangle pose).  I was bouncing back and forth between two very effective but opposing ways to move into and hold this posture.  As I experimented with and explored trikonasana it became clear that all, none or some of each perspective was valid.  A voice spoke at one point “how do YOU want to teach the pose?”.  This was a genuine gift from a greater intelligence inside.  It was reflective of a message that I received a few months ago from one of my Enneagram teachers who reminded us that we must take what we learn and make it our own.  This is the only way wisdom has the opportunity to evolve.  In that moment I asked myself what I felt could be learned from trikonasana and how that might serve myself or my students.  It became clear that trikonasana can be a key posture through which to learn about grounding, long lines of energy in the body and helpful placement of joints.  These three things anchored my own performance of the pose and have become guideposts for teaching it.  These intentions have become anchors around which all other alignment cues pivot.

In essence, then, I have moved from teaching yoga through regurgitation of other’s perspectives to finding my own voice.  Both stages are necessary and wonderful, and I am happy to be experiencing a new way to orient to asana.  In this way, my intuition has become a cauldron into which I pour teachings from all sources, experimentation and experience with a vast array of approaches, sensitivity to the needs of the moment and intention (which is always in honour of unfoldment of the higher Self).   What has begun to arise is a new flavor to my practice and teaching – an alchemical soup of sorts.  A challenge to you is to be aware of how much of your own voice you bring to your practice.  Can you be aware of what is bubbling in your cauldron?  How much of each ingredient is contributing to a living, evolving practice that you can call uniquely your own?