On this path no effort is wasted,
no gain is ever reversed;
even a little of this practice
will shelter you from great sorrow.
~ Bhagavad Gita 2.40 (Stephen Mitchell translation)
Last weekend we had the joy of leading our Anatomy of a Handstand workshop at Awakened Yoga in Sugarland, Texas. Mind Tribes Yoga Teacher Trainings, immersions and workshops are designed to sufficiently provoke students to powerfully take ownership for their own discovery and learning.
First, let me offer more context with one specific example of how we do this. We’ve been using shoulder movement and integration as a frame for explaining how our methodology works, so it seems appropriate given our workshop focus.
In teaching a Warrior I pose, for instance, we guide students to experiment with the protraction of their scapula (shoulder blades) – as opposed to retracting their scapula onto their backs. If you’ve ever heard your friendly, neighborhood Vinyasa teacher say, “squeeze your shoulder blades onto your back,” that runs contrary to our approach to movement ecology.
After hearing our method, one of the workshop participants instantly became confronted in a big, big way. She said, “Wait a minute! You’re telling me that the way I learned to integrate my shoulders is ALL WRONG?!?! I spent thousands of dollars, attended all these programs, and invested in years of training…just to learn an incorrect way of moving?”
Our answer to her visible frustration is “yes and no”. First, rather than viewing tools as either the “right” or “wrong” way, or the “correct” or “incorrect” way, we prefer to ask a series of logical questions: Does the tool work for your body and your practice? And, if not, is there a more efficient way?
We prefer this method of experimentation because it immerses you in the process of the movement, and it pulls you out of product-oriented thinking, which orients from extrinsic motivation. In short, diving deeply into the process breaks up your old habits of thinking and moving and gives you access to discovering new ways that serve you much more efficiently.
As the popular Bhagavad Gita verse reminds us, no action is ever wasted! All of your previous experiences – whether counted as failures or massive wins – have led you to the here and now, and have gifted you with perspective and wisdom.
It’s common to experience things as a waste of time and money, especially when we’re confronted with conflicting information. It’s a practice of coming back to your “why” which grants access to discernment and knowing fully which tools to continue using and which ones to leave behind. It takes courage and a bold student to be able to leave something aside even when it’s highly popular and the shiny object. We have experienced, and fully believe, that your power exists in being able to take ownership of your practice and your life.
We invite you to get really straight yourself – Where are you using popular tools that are no longer helping you produce the results you want? Are you willing to shed yourself of those and discover new ways?
About the Authors
Dan and Cristina Houston are the co-founders of Mind Tribes. They have both studied with some of the world’s best movers and yoga teachers and applied their rich experiences to create unique and effective programs. Dan and Cristina are known for creating a space where their students can get real with themselves and others, discovering the ways of being and tools that simply no longer work, and acquiring new tools that propel their effectiveness and results into new realms. Graduates of their programs have shared that their participation has created impactful and lasting effects in both their lives and their teaching and/or movement.