Teaching Ashtanga,  Uncategorized,  Yoga Philosophy,  Yoga Sutras

You Think You Know Everything About Yoga, Don’t You?

“You know nothing, John Snow.” – Ygritte, Game of Thrones

I have finally reached the age where I now understand why my mother’s generation used to say, “you think you know everything, don’t you?”

 It is so crazy to me that folks get a little bit of “new” information and now they are an expert, and everyone who came before them, doesn’t know what they are talking about. They apply the information for a few seconds, minutes, years and feel that is enough time to totally wipe out any information that came before theirs.

 Listen, I am all about innovation and change. However, the inability to even consider information and view points that proceeded yours, is not a sign of wisdom but a sign of an ego out of control. The assumption that, just because you have this new research, that the ones who came before you must not have had this knowledge, therefore you are superior, is ego. Maybe they had the information, and through more time than you have been on this earth, took another approach with that information. Maybe they didn’t know what they were talking about but do you know that for certain? Can you make that assumption based on a hand full of anecdotal stories?

I don’t pretend to know what knowledge my grandmother had. I don’t pretend to know what knowledge famous yogis like Krishnamacharya or Pattabhi Jois had. I know that we only have a tiny weeny bit of the information that they had. Why? Because, my daughter and my students only have a teeny weeny bit of the information that I have.  Ask yourself, how many people on this earth have you given every bit of information you know? Have you ever been talking to someone and had to take your words down a notch because it was going over their heads?  If you died today, how much of your knowledge or your life experience would live on? I am guessing, not much. What would happen if, those conversations, where you dialed it back a notch, were taken as your legacy?  What if Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois and Krishnamacharya were dialing it back many many notches?

If you become famous after your death, tons of people are going to come out of the woodwork and act like they knew you. Act like they received all of your knowledge. Some will come out, after only getting a smidgen of your viewpoint, and say you were an idiot. They don’t mean any harm. They are just expressing their ,vrittis, false notions that are based on a limited picture of reality. 

 So lets take a step back before we assume that our knowledge is superior. Lets take a step back before we assume we have the full picture. I am not even saying you need the full picture. Speak what you know within your experience. We don’t have to slam others for our information to look better. The yogis call this Ahimsa or non violence.

If I disagree with another lineage or another teacher, I can write a blog post or do a workshop without ever mentioning their name. I just did. LOL. I write every blog post with the thought, “with time and more thought, I may find this post to be completely false.” I still write anyway because I am not interested in being right.  I am interested in discovering the truth. When I teach, I teach with the thought, “I may discover, with more time and study,  that this teaching is completely false.” I still teach because I am not interested in pushing the “rightness” of my view point on my students.  I am interested in them taking the information I give and seeing if it rings true within their own hearts.

If something rings true for you right now, that is cool. Practice it. Just because it rings true for you right now, does that mean you know everything there is to know about it? No.

Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail shanna@ashtangayogaproject.com.

One Comment

  • Christine

    Girl, I feel like a recent comment you heard/read or interaction spurred this post. I know those things often provide a spark for a blog post but this one in particular seems to have been “inspired” by something that might have gotten your goat. 😉

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