What should I be feeling?

And its cousin, “Where should I feel this?”

These are questions that come up in a yoga class.

And probably in relationships. And difficult conversations. And in decision making.

We don’t trust, let alone often know what we feel.

We’re taught by our parents (well intentioned as they were) to not trust our feelings:

You are cold, put your jacket on!

We look to others for cues on next trends, fashion, and pop culture instead of tuning in to what feels right for us.

We seek external approval and acceptance.

We want the recipe, the answer, the easy route.

We aren’t used to waiting, figuring it out for ourselves, or worse—not knowing.

Let alone the fact that our culture is trying to make us exactly like each other.

Advertising preys on all of this conditioning.

I can be harsh here because I am this person. I have never been a rock the boat, leader of the pack kind of gal.

The first time/place I explored marching to my own drum was on my yoga mat. In the safety of that petri dish where a lifetime can play out in movement and breath, I found the space and permission to feel. To begin to know who I am and what that feels like.

It’s my intention to share that permission as a yoga teacher. It’s #1 of our 13 Things: There’s no one right way to do a pose. My way isn’t going to feel the same on your body.

Feeling lends itself to responsibility. And imagine what might be different if we were all taking responsibility for our stuff.

If this is hitting a cord with you, here are some recommendations that have been helpful for me on and off the mat:

  • Hiro Boga – I have had private sessions with Hiro and participated in her Healing Internet Hangover class. She is doing a Sovereignty Kindergarten teleclass next month and I highly recommend it. She also offers free goodies like podcasts and articles.
  • How to Talk so Kids Will Listen – I’ve talked about this book before. Havi recommended it at the Destuckification Retreat and I can’t tell you how it’s changed my awareness of listening and language.
  • Danielle LaPorte – Yes, I ordered the Fire Starter Kit. And it is amazing. Oozing with tips on how to be more you. But really, Danielle’s website is full of this stuff. Free. And smokin’ hot.
  • Yin Yoga – I know. It can be such an intense practice. Just steeping in those shapes, in the feelings there. Mmm, mmm good. Here’s a sequence to try.
  • Meditation – (And you didn’t think it could get harder than Yin!) Again, the opportunity to notice and be with what you feel. Free meditations here!

And just to let you know—if you ask me in class what you should be feeling, I’m going to ask you to tell me what you feel. Aside from the times I have a specific intention in a pose, I want the practice to be a place you can get to know yourself.

As Oscar Wilde said, Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.


7 Responses to “What should I be feeling?”

  1. 1 emma June 30, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    oh my goodness, i love your 13 things! one of the places i teach seems to have a lululemon dress code… and i catch myself staring in the mirror at outfits before i go to teach. i want to require everyone who comes to my class to just try showing up in painters clothes or gardeners clothes for just one day and see how the ego reacts.

  2. 2 Rebel Road Sister July 1, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    It is hard to get use to listening to your body but once you learn to do it, it is wonderful!

  3. 3 blogasana July 1, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    @emma – thanks!! we just redid our website/branding and are being more clear about who we are now (rather than trying to be all things…). i love the “come in a gunnysack” class idea!!

    @rrsister – it IS hard. so hard. and yes, wonderful!

  4. 4 Kelley July 2, 2010 at 1:48 am

    You know Michelle. Sometimes (rarely), I feel nothing in a pose and then you come over and just point me one way or the other or tell me to tighten something and then I “feel” it and it’s like all the angels in heaven sing ALLELUAH! So, it’s ok to sometimes ask where you should feel it, right? I just don’t want to be the only fool wondering on those rare occasions why are we doing this? Maybe I’m just not completely out of my head quite yet. However, you usually don’t let me get away with not feeling it for long. I wonder how you know I’m not feeling it. You must be magical.

    • 5 blogasana July 2, 2010 at 2:26 am

      grrrl, you crack me up. yes it’s ok to ask. and yes sometimes an adjustment is necessary. and OH LORD do those angels sing! it IS magic! xoxo

  5. 6 Madeline July 4, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    thumbs up! and I’m going to check out some of links. sometimes I think we want to know “how should we feel?” because some of us, or maybe people that practice yoga, who knows?, want to make sure we are doing it ‘right’. I am a perfectionistic type so I don’t ask but I always wonder. For me, it’s about trying to get the full benefits of the practice and the poses, like when doing strength training, when we are told “if you are going to do it sloppy and not keep your form, you may as well not do it at all because your targeted muscles are not getting any benefits.” I agree with you on listening to our bodies. We ARE trained on ‘how to feel’ and to feel for ourselves or decide or label how we feel is often a foreign to many, but one I am learning to embrace.

  6. 7 blogasana July 5, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    @madeline – i totally get where you’re coming from. this too can be part of the “experiment”… what’s it like to watch those type A tendencies and maybe even do something less that perfect (gasp!!), or to intentionally do 70% of what you know you can (aaack!) just to watch the ego/mind. a little quirky, i know… hopefully fun to play with tho.

    thanks for the comment!

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