The Yoga Sutras discuss the many obstacles that come along on the path of yoga (indeed, on the path of life!). The obstacle I would like to discuss in this article is backsliding, in other words not maintaining the forward progress that has already been achieved. The Sanskrit term for backsliding is anavasthitatvani.
Yoga provides us an opportunity to be lifelong learners and to overcome obstacles to knowledge and self-improvement. I would like to give you an example from my own practice.
As part of my efforts to improve my teaching I recently filmed a practice class for review by my mentoring teachers, Dean and Rebecca Lerner. I thought the class had gone pretty well and was hoping for favorable feedback. The feedback wasn’t as I expected. Rebecca and Dean, with their long practice of helping teachers, had many insights into how I had let certain aspects of my teaching devolve, while other areas showed improvement.
One of their observations was that my language wasn’t as directive as it should be. At first, this idea was met by denial on my part. But by listening to myself teach the following week, I could hear exactly what they were talking about. I had encountered the obstacle of backsliding – I had let forward movement towards better teaching go backwards to an old habit.
While many of those who are students of yoga are not teaching yoga, this lesson can be applied to attending class. Often it takes an impartial observer to help us move forward, or for us to realize we have actually moved backwards. If we can listen to feedback without attachment or judgement, then real progress can be made!
Nina Pileggi is the owner and director of Sunset Yoga Center. She is a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher and has taught Iyengar Yoga for over 14 years.