To Wall OR Not To Wall?

March 27, 2014
Katherine Austin Wooley


It's Monday 7am and you're stepping into your first Ashtanga Short Form yoga class.  You lay down your mat, the lights are glowing and the room is warm and cozy.  You should be feeling relaxed in this beautiful environment! But……..everyone is already stretching, posturing or looking like they know what's going on.  You on the other hand are terrified that this class is way out of your league!

I often hear so many people do not even walk into a yoga class because they are afraid.  Afraid of looking dumb (I dislike that word) or not flexible enough or too old ...  You name it, I've heard it.  The ego is still in command and labeling. The wall is up.

The western approach to yoga has typically been one of just "posturing" or as David Swenson once said: "Making an asana of ourselves."  The west has heavily focused on just the physical aspects of yoga.  The workout.

Yes, the doorway in is often through the tangible, physical body but that's just the beginning.  Just the beginning.

So you start there.  Getting back into your body, feeling lots for the first time again! Not so comfortable but good to know where you are holding onto stress.  Your hamstrings feel like they might snap (they won't) and your shoulders feel like cement (they're not).  Keep coming back.  You'll move the stuck energy and emotions that are trapped and open a door to freedom like none-other.

Ok, back to the class. Now the instructor has brought the class into a balance pose.  "Where's the door!!!" you're thinking.  I see more students run for the bathroom or need a drink or even turn away from the others in the room when these poses come up.  Many will also run for the wall.

To wall or not to wall is the question?

Well, it's personal, but here are a few thoughts.

First, we aren't talking about a wall yoga class or specific poses done that need a wall, that's different. We are talking about poses that can be challenging but easily be done by most in the middle of the room.

For most, the wall can become a crutch and less a support.  At first it seems like a good idea and it can be for some with physical or vision issues. The only problem is for those who really don't need a wall, you may never free yourself of it.  Kind of like a bad relationship; it looks good at first but then the truth sets in.

When we stay on our mat in balance poses, we can have more progress on many layers.  And we learn we have choices.  We can start small in a modified variation of the pose and move forward at our own pace (like not rushing into any relationship too fast, too soon).

Next, our nervous system tunes up faster without using the wall and  most of all we can develop many more powerful aspects of the pose like courage, patience, and faith.

These are the qualities that will serve you well off the mat!

When we rush too quickly for help, support or rescuing, on or off the yoga mat, we may miss discovering our full potential and stepping into our Light! If we cling to the "wall," we often put up a wall and block the teachings, and risk never taking it down.

Keep coming back.  It's the daily layering of this practice that tunes us up.  It's the daily releasing of stress that brightens our light. And it's the daily self-love that really creates the yoga or union with your Self and all those around you.

As Yogi Bhajan said:  "If you can't see God in all, you can't see God at all."


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