Learning in the Margins: 3 Tips for the Practical Yogi

Originally, I wrote an article on triangle pose: how to, variations, benefits, and philosophy. I thought the most daunting part of the task would be keeping the post concise! But after receiving the assignment to do triangle pose every day, multiple times a day for two weeks, I learned a few things that aren’t normally taught on a how-to blog.Yoga Teacher Erica Rascon in triangle pose

The first revelation struck during my 19th time in triangle. I figured that I could go deeper each time that I did the pose. On the physical level, I was right. My hips, adductors and hamstrings have never felt so liberated!

But with rote repetition, the mind-spirit connection began to dwindle. I tried to force thoughts of divine trifectas, geometric symbols and cosmic secrets—which is what I assumed my teacher expected of me—but every visit to triangle became an exercise in futile spirituality.

The Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Cannot Be Superglued

I felt ashamed. Usually, I don’t have a problem tapping into the mind, body, and spirit during a practice. But I hit a block with this triangle assignment.

Not every visit to your mat is going to bring you closer to divinity in the way that you might think. Sometimes your practice will feel like work. Sometimes you’ll leave the mat with the same questions—or more questions—than you started with.

On other days, the mind-body-spirit connection will be effortless. But you can’t superglue the three together and hope they will remain intact during every step of your yoga journey. Some days you may experience more of one than the others.

One of the benefits of taking yoga teacher training at PYC is the emphasis on the integration of mind, body and spirit throughout our practice—on and off of the mat. Yet there is also a shared understanding that each day is different. No one expects you to vibrate on a higher level all of the time.

Enlightenment Does Not Have a Due Date

As students, we must remember that we approach growth on our own terms. It’s not the responsibility (or even the ability) of a guru or teacher to assign growth. They can only give us a road map for turning inward. We are responsible for the rest.

Sometimes revelation comes quickly, like a flash flood. It can be powerful and overwhelming, leaving us reeling in its wake.

Other times, we face weeks of drought. We struggle to find meaning. Any insight becomes a single drop that barely satisfies our thirst.

Classes at PYC taught me that persistence is the key to growth as a yoga student. Growth will take time. There is no reason to feel like a failure if you don’t get where you think you ought to be in a certain amount of time.

Fortunately for us, enlightenment does not come with a due date. At PYC, we receive the tools that we need to grow at our own pace.

Learn in the Margins

Though I struggled to find meaning in triangle pose, my relationship with forward folds grew stronger. This is perhaps the most psychological and spiritual insight that I received during my assignment.

Triangle pose presents the beauty of opposition and imbalance. It’s an asymmetrical pose that asks us to fold and lift, lengthen and contract, stand firm and let go.

At the time of this assignment, though, too many components of my life felt imbalanced. I couldn’t appreciate triangle pose. Tragic events in the news left my heart aching. I felt pulled between indignation and forgiveness; optimistic action and hopeless inertia; fighting for self-preservation and fighting in righteous indignation. The imbalances took a toll on my mind.

I thought I was coping okay until the triangle assignment came along. Being in the pose every day, multiple times a day, revealed just how weary I’d become of being pulled in multiple directions. Triangle pose left limbs extended, alone and vulnerable. I had too much vulnerability in my life already.

Forward folds became my refuge. Symmetry. Balance. Fairness. Forward folds allowed me to curl into myself and find a safe, dark space where I could breathe. I felt whole and connected. Every part of my body came in contact with more of my own flesh.

I originally did not think that I was “supposed” to learn such lessons during my assignment, but that’s the beauty of learning in the margins. You walk away with more understanding that you ever thought possible.

Come learn in the margins with us!

Guest contributor Erica Rascon is a 200-hr RYT and graduate of Peachtree Yoga Center. She enjoys organic gardening, writing, and exploring the great outdoors.