The other day I mentioned to my boyfriend I may want to go back to school for writing and public speaking, as my work often requires speaking to a crowd and writing. Both of these things are out of my comfort zone. He suggested I look into fining out the curriculum of any specific school and buying the recommended books. His comment made me reflect on the different approaches to learning. Learning is a very personal activity, we each have a different way of processing information. As a teacher I encounter all kinds of people with all kinds of learning abilities. Each individual requires a different approach even if the content I am teaching remains the same. Depending on who I have in front of me I may need to be more stern, soft, compassionate, distant, present, attentive, dismissive, the list goes on. Our brains and body's all retain and process information in different manners. Some people learn through reading, others through doing, some through listening, ect...
In ashtanga yoga we learn by doing. That is why it is such a healing practice we learn one thing at a time, and we don't move on until we master the one thing we are doing. Guruji used to say you must practice one asana 1000 times before you can begin to understand it. We wait until the process of learning something settles and the body, mind and nervous system align in becoming that new knowledge. In this methodology we ease into becoming, we slowly build ourselves or unbuild ourselves back to our true nature.
The first time I picked up the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras. I had no idea what I was reading. I remember reading and re reading the same sentence or passage millions of times, and the words just slipping right off my mind. As time passed and I continued to revisit them I’d notice some concepts would all the sudden make sense. When you understand things in your body, in your heart, not just intellectually, there is a sense of embodying the knowledge, of become one with it, of recognizing these concepts in your own practice and life.
My philosophy teacher in Mysore always says to first chant the texts, even if you don't understand just keep practicing and keep chanting, eventually when you read the translations they will begin to make sense because they are part your you already.
Join me in Costa Rica this winter, or in Portugal this summer. Travel, explore with a group of like minded people to gorgeous places while maintaining your daily practice and exploring deeper aspects of Yoga, while relaxing and being cooked for by amazing vegan chefs!