teacher feature – jo ann kester

ahhh… paschimottanasana. this is not a sigh of joy. forward fold is my least favorite yoga pose. even after years of yoga practice i struggle to hinge from my hips, my back wants to round, and i feel like my feet belong to some other person! while i have certainly made progress from a new student it still seems like a struggle. shouldn’t i be better at this by now? although i guess that is part of my discomfort. it isn’t only my tight hips and hamstrings, but my idea of what i should look like and fee like in this pose that causes me to struggle.

i have been drawn to the practice of doing and teaching of yoga because it helps me remind myself and others it isn’t about what we look or feel like. there isn’t a way that we should be at any particular moment other than exactly how we are. our job is just to notice what is. even when we don’t like what we are noticing. in our anxiety filled lives we may even find our selves getting annoyed over what annoys us! not only do i think i should have a better forward fold, i think that i shouldn’t care so much about this forward fold anyway!

pema chodron is a voice of calm that helps me deal with and even embrace my inner crankiness. in the wisdom of no escape she tells us, “one of the major obstacles to what is traditionally called enlightenment is resentment, feeling cheated, holding a grudge about who you are, where you are, what you are… meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realizing that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have. our wisdom is all mixed up with what we call our neurosis. our brilliance, our juiciness, our spiciness, is all mixed up with our craziness and our confusion, and therefore it doesn’t do any good to try to get rid of our so-called negative aspects, because in that process we also get rid of our basic wonderfulness.”

i am grateful to tranquil space for leading me to many such voices of wisdom and providing a good place to practice embracing my entire practice.

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jo ann kester is a tranquil space teacher sub and studio manager.

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