I’ve updated my yoga resume because I am shopping around for new yoga studios to teach in since Black Lotus closed 3 weeks ago. Yoga is a funny thing – I supposedly teach an “advanced” class on Monday nights, and I’m looking for a new home for all those dedicated yogis who take that class.
But it got me thinking – what really is “advanced” yoga? It reminded me of something I wrote awhile back for one of my online yoga programs. Here it is:
When are you no longer a yoga beginner? When are you advanced? Interestingly, I think the more advanced you are, the more you have a beginner’s mind. What does that mean?
Beginner’s mind is a concept I first heard from the classic book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki. An online article says beginner’s mind is: “the mind that is innocent of preconceptions and expectations, judgements and prejudices. Beginner’s mind is just present to explore and observe and see “things as-it-is.”
I think of beginner’s mind as the mind that faces life like a small child, full of curiosity and wonder and amazement. “I wonder what this is? I wonder what that is? I wonder what this means?” Without approaching things with a fixed point of view or a prior judgement, just asking “What is it?”
I think about this a lot when I’m doing sun salutes day by day. There’s a well-known yoga studio whose slogan is: “Another day, another downward dog.” That’s how it feels! It’s another day, and I’m doing the same thing. But it’s so interesting because it feels so new everyday. I think it’s because of this beginner’s mind – it’s like we ask ourselves, “I’m so curious to find out what it’s all going to feel like today.” I feel like I’m always wondering what’s going to be *available* to me today, and I just don’t know until I show up on the mat.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I definitely slag through the practice sometimes with a distinctly un-beginner’s mind. A judging day, when I wonder why something hasn’t shifted, or an impatient mind that wonders if I can skip the warmup and go right to the main event. It’s hard to keep beginner’s mind everyday, but nice to notice how fun the practice can be when we do.