There is always a way…

Our wonderful, wise teacher Sarah shares her personal practice philosophy about how to practice with honesty and find liberation through yoga.


One of my favourite sayings in my classes. It’s actually one of my Dad’s favourite sayings. He is 80 and retired now but a plumber by trade and still keeps busy doing jobs, (currently fitting me a  downstairs loo!). He always finds a way to get the pipes in place, to find a way round the problem and work with the environment he is in and with the equipment he has. It’s the same in our yoga practise, we work with what we’ve got. We should use the pose to suit our needs or, find an alternative one.

We all have boundaries or limitations to some degree. We must become aware of these boundaries, honour them, work with them, rather than against them. Those who come to my classes know that I’m all for challenging oneself but we should do this with respect for our bodies, with awareness and acceptance of our current state of being on the mat, at that time.  Forcing knees for lotus, shoulders for binding or lower backs for back bending is not an example of a true yogi.  Awareness, kindness, acceptance, honesty, practise and dedication (but without grasping), are the qualities of a true yogi.

So what if you can’t do Padmasana (lotus)? Sit in cross legs or half lotus. So what if you can’t bind in Marichyasana A? Reach the arms forwards instead.  So what if you can’t do full Ustrasana (Camel), work with hands on the hips instead of the heels.  IT’S OK!!! Find the position that’s right for you. There is always a way!

I can’t do lotus, my hips just won’t allow it and if I were to force my legs into that position I would probably severely damage my knees. But I can work in other hip openers so that sitting in cross leg becomes easier. (There is always a way!).  I had to let go of the thought of doing full lotus a long time ago and accept that its not within my safe boundaries for the foreseeable future. But IT’S OK! Life is not worse because my body is not designed for lotus at this time but life would be worse if I ruined my knees.

I suffered two bouts of serious illness in consecutive years following the birth of my second daughter, 12 months after she was born. After the first illness, I was so poorly following surgery that I physically couldn’t do asana practise. But I could breathe and practice Pranayama breath control. (There is always a way!). I practised Golden Thread breathing prior to the op to calm my nerves and after the op, when I eventually could get out of bed and was helped outside for some fresh air, I practised ujjayi breathing. I could just about manage to move my arms up and down in time with my breath. That’s all I could do but IT WAS OK!! A fellow patient said to me in broken English “you do yoga! I practise 20 years, it makes you happy!”.

Ah ha!  Yoga makes you happy! What are your answers to the following questions?  Does your yoga make you happy or are you constantly grasping at things that currently are beyond your reach? Is it causing you distress?  Do you need to address your practise and find the way that is honestly right for you? Yoga is a tool that should be used to enhance our well being.

I had pneumonia the year after that so my lungs were affected. My breathing was raspy, shallow and I was out of breath just talking. But when I got out of hospital, I could sit on the mat and do a little forward bend. I could lay in bed and do a supine twist and I could rest in child’s pose. Guess what? This was my way and IT WAS OK!

The final goal of yoga is freedom, liberation.  How can we feel free if we are bound by our own perceptions of what a pose should look like. Let go of grasping, find your way so you can be free in your own pose. There is always a way… acceptance (“it’s ok where I am”), kindness (“I will not force”), honesty (“I really will not force”!), practise (“as often as I can”), dedication without grasping (“I will commit honestly to my practise”)….

There is always a way fellow yogis, always a way…


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