“What I’m looking for is not out there, it is in me.” ~ Helen Keller
Most of us are aware of the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. A young girl, walking alone in the forest, stumbles upon the home of Mama Bear, Papa Bear and Baby Bear while the bears are out of the house. Goldilocks goes inside and decides to eat some porridge that has been set out to cool. She tries one bowl that’s too hot, one that’s too cold and one bowl of porridge that is just right, so she eats it all up. Curious by nature, Goldilocks then checks out the Bear’s furnishings by sitting in their chairs where she finds one to be too big, one that is too small and one that is just right, but it breaks as she settles in. From there, Miss Goldilocks decides to take a nap but has to try all three beds before finding the one that suits her. She lays down and falls asleep. Meanwhile, the bears return to their sampled porridge and broken chair. When they find Goldilocks asleep in Baby Bear’s bed, they are a little upset, but, according to the fable, Goldilocks escapes the wrath of the bears and lives happily ever after.
I sometimes think of yoga practice like Goldilocks’ trip to the home of the Three Bears. I like her attitude. Not the trespassing and vandalism part, but instead the idea that you explore and try new things until you find what is the best fit for you.
Our beach yoga classes welcome all levels of ability. We have visitors passing through town who have never stepped on a yoga mat before, standing mat-to-mat with yoga instructors and seasoned practitioners. But even if we didn’t open our classes to a wide range of abilities, the disparities would still exist because we are all unique. Each body that shows up to stretch is structurally different. Every individual who comes to the yoga mat carries with them a diverse “tool box” of experience, capability, limitations, injury, perceptions and beliefs. That’s where Goldilocks Yoga enters in.
Yoga practice is very much an individual activity, even when we participate in a group setting. Much like Goldilocks went about checking out the bear’s chairs, we use yoga to explore the stretches and the modifications of each pose until we find the one that feels “just right.” For example, standing on one leg in a balance posture might feel easily accessible on a Tuesday night, but Thursday morning that same pose feels awkwardly unsteady. If we are practicing the true nature of yoga, and following Goldilocks’ example, we don’t let the unsteadiness discourage us from an enjoyable experience. Instead we adapt to the situation and modify our stance in order to feel more grounded.
When I was in junior high, I decided I want to join the marching band and play the drums. I shared my decision with the band instructor who said there were already too many drummers. Not a problem, I said, any percussion will do. I’ll start with the cymbals or wave the wand inside the triangle to create a soft, rhythmic chime. But there was no room in percussion, not even the maracas. Instead the band instructor talked me into the French horn. A big, brass contraption with only four measly keys. Making sound with a French horn took a great deal more effort than banging on drums. My lips hurt and my lungs ached as I blew into the mouthpiece until my head felt like exploding. I took the horn back to the instructor and walked away from marching band. I moved on to swing choir where I could sing and dance and wear a stiff, orange polyester mini dress. It was a perfect match.
Our lives are a culmination of the decisions that we make and even though we don’t always choose the hand we are dealt, we still get to navigate our individual response. Through yoga practice, we aren’t just opting for a modification in standing balance that creates greater stability, we are choosing to flow with life in a single moment in time. Goldilocks didn’t give up on porridge just because the first bowl scorched her tongue, she explored all the bowls of warm cereal until she found the one that satisfied her hunger. As a teenager, I traded in a big, brass horn for a short, orange skirt because singing and dancing suited me better than honking and marching.
Yoga is an individual practice that leads us to a better understanding of our body; its abilities and its limitations. But even more important, yoga creates an environment where we get to explore our decision-making ability. Through yoga we are encouraged to honor our needs like Goldilocks, and always choose what feels “just right.”
Laurie Kasperbauer, RYT 200, enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes. Laurie is also an active Florida realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. She can be reached at Harborview Realty, 291 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, or by calling 712-210-3853.