Pranamaya had the chance to connect with YogaLink and Yoga Tune Up® creator Jill Miller recently. We asked her about her thoughts on yoga.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is a conscious map to bring you in touch with your unconscious drives in motion and stillness. It is a lens into the thoughts that accompany your known and unknown habits. Yoga brings compassionate scrutiny to your life.
How do you weave that definition into your teaching?
In my Yoga Tune Up® approach, I ask my students to connect their mind into their motion, and to let no position or fluctuation of position go un-detected. I ask my students to let awareness be their mentor and to constantly increase their perception of proprioception (body sense) and the opinions, thoughts, and emotions that arise as a result of their activity. The task is to live better in your body; to make constant positive change to minimize and erase pain, move better and find peaceful progress in practice, relationships and profession.
How do you bring it into your own practice?
As a “recovered hypermobile” person, I have had to train myself to be vigilant about not just getting caught up in the “bliss” of a pose, but rather to reap joy in stabilizing myself and my joints in any given configuration. I have traded my love of sanskrit and “poses” for a love of latin, anatomy and physiology in order to restore optimum function to my body and mind. I am very exacting and precise in my own practice. I love the minutae within movement. I use my own biology as a nyasa (one-pointed focus) and flip my concentration from point-to-point in order to encompass a whole body action- no matter what “style” of movement I engage in. This places me into a deep zone of meditation and prevents me from blowing past my end-range or creating further instabilities in my body.
How has your understanding of yoga’s true meaning evolved since you began teaching?
I was introduced to yoga at age 11 while growing up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Each teacher I worked with shared their own unique perspective and path. I consumed yoga books as a teenager and college student and found companionship in the practice with myself. It was my best friend and sanctuary. I carried it with me like a security blanket and felt protected by my practice, but I slowly started to realize that I had also become a fanatic, and was using my hours and hours of practice daily as a shield against the world. Yoga was my safe haven because I felt so unsafe. I was running away from my feelings, my childhood, and my own trauma. I had to wean myself off of the practice and venture into other movement disciplines, bodywork, dance, weight-lifting, somatic therapy and more to start to see that I was not “fixing” myself with yoga, but that my relationship with it had become deeply codependent and unhealthy. I now have tools from many disciplines that I incorporate into my teaching and programming that I feel bring a balanced perspective to myself and my students.
Awareness first, human movement second, poses (if any) third.
What is the biggest misconception about yoga that you would like to change?
Yoga is not a panacea. Yoga is a great tool. Like any tool, it can harm you if used improperly.
Accomplishing the “classical shapes” found in the past 200 or so years does not endow a practitioner with any special gifts. If poses become a goal or continue to be promoted in the greater community as a sign of and “advanced practitioner” we will only continue to see more injuries and self-flagellation amongst practitioners. Poses are not pills that can “fix” you physically or psychically. Connecting with your own process within your practice is a doable, realistic and ever-enriching goal.
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