Drop What You Know

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Drop What You Know

Knowledge is important. It gives us a solid foundation, allows us to have a basic understanding of how things work. We can’t do anything if we don’t know anything.

But anyone who has ever done anything great has gone beyond what was already known.

Think of Einstein. He was taught that light is made of waves. But when he allowed himself to drop what he knew and think bigger, he realised that light can also be made of particles. And his discovery opened the door to a whole new world of knowledge and understanding called quantum physics. Einstein couldn’t have made his discovery without knowledge of physics. But that knowledge served only as the beginning, only as the building blocks, of his true work.

On our yoga mats, it’s helpful to know the basic mechanics of each pose. But if we try to move our bodies so they look exactly like the picture in a book, so that every limb and muscle and joint is aligned in the way they’re “supposed” to be, we might miss out on what a yoga pose can really be for us.

In Extended Side Angle, we’re often told to keep our back foot at 90 degrees. But it turns out that some people gain greater access to their core, and therefore are able to more fully open their front body, if they turn their back foot in to more like 60 degrees. How will you ever know what’s right for you if you keep trying to do the pose “right”?

At some point in our practice, we have to drop what we think we know and simply listen to our bodies and our intuition. We have to release the constraint of what has been done before and pay attention to what can be done right now. Only then can we discover our own full, individual expressions of each pose. All the knowledge in the world can’t get us there, only we can.

Of course, that means we have to have faith in ourselves. Knowledge can often serve as a safety blanket. If we do everything by the book, we must be doing everything right, which makes us good and acceptable in the eyes of others. We’re afraid of what would happen if we did things differently, as we felt deep down they should be done, because that might open us up to criticism or ridicule.

But what would that matter, if our own way worked, opened doors, allowed us to grow? From the other side of those doors, we might even begin to feel sorry for those who would criticise us for following our own path. We might understand that they too are probably just afraid to drop the security that comes from having a defined worldview.

Paradoxically, once we let go of needing to know the right answer, we’ll know what to do. Once we stop looking outside of ourselves for the right way, the path inside us illuminates. As Baron Baptiste says, “Drop your brain, drop your expectations, and just let go and flow.” And ask yourself, what could be your equivalent of quantum physics?