Devotees of yoga know that the practice is a beautiful melding of body, mind, and spirit.
As a yoga instructor and owner of a studio, I have worked with enough students to discover that though most students do experience shifts in body, mind, and spirit, they each tend to embody one category more than the other two.
1. The Body Yogi
The yogis that embrace the body aspect are the students with the strong physical practices. They are the Handstand and Side Crow superstars. They can hold Plank Pose for sixty seconds without breaking a drop of sweat. Between classes, they YouTube poses and work on them at home.
The Body students often gather in little groups after classes to figure out mysterious and seemingly gravity-defying moves.
2. The Mind Yogi
The thinkers in every studio, the Mind yogis love to ask questions before, after, and sometimes during (which I love!) class. "Does the front foot go here or here in Warrior I?" "Do you inhale or exhale when you fold forward?" "What's the Sanskrit word for triangle?"
The students with a mind emphasis are learners, first and foremost. They've got stacks of yoga books at home that they plow through, soaking knowledge up like squishy sponges.
3. The Spirit Yogi
Ah, the Spirit yogis. Emotions rule their practice. They're as likely to be laughing in Frog Pose as they are to be sniffling and teary in Savasana. They come to class when their day has been wonderful and they come to class on the worst day of their life.
They love to make yoga friends at their studio, and they bring and share homemade treats. They aren't concerned with their aesthetics in each pose—they just move the way they need to move to feel good.
Exploring Another Yoga Student Personality
Do you recognize yourself a bit more in one category than the other two? And have you been thinking lately that your personal practice has hit a rut or a plateau? We all hit those times when our practice has become a bit stale and unadventurous. Let's shake up your yoga a bit with this experiment.
Before your next practice, as you rest on your mat, take a moment to close your eyes and connect with the usual yoga you. Whether you are a Body, Mind, or Spirit yogi, acknowledge it and say hello. Next, choose one of the other two yogi types and consider stepping into that attitude…and how it might feel.
Yoga as a Body Yogi
If you're not typically a Body yogi, what might it be like to get into your physical form a bit more? Would you challenge yourself with a pose you've struggled with or haven't ever attempted?
When it is time to hold a pose for a while, could you calm your mind and feelings and let your body feel powerful enough to hold you steady?
Yoga as a Mind Yogi
If you're not typically a Mind yogi, what might it be like to notice your thoughts during practice? Is there a question you would ask in class? Could you study your alignment a bit in each pose and mindfully tweak it? Would you try to pick up a little piece of knowledge that might help you going forward?
Yoga as a Spirit Yogi
If you're not typically a Spirit yogi, what would it be like to surrender your deep sense of self to the practice? Would you dedicate your practice to something or someone you love? Would you smile encouragement or joy at a stranger in class if you catch her eye?
Could you allow yourself to not do things perfectly and instead let yourself move the way you want to?
Setting Your Yoga Practice Intention
When you're done, open your eyes and set the intention to, just for today's practice, step into the unfamiliar style you just imagined—and pretend it is normal for you. Because it is normal for you, it is just a side of your practice you don't typically allow to come out and play.
Then, play! Experience this new perspective on your mat. See what shift, what magic happens.