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See this mat? Sometimes you should sit down on it.

There have been a lot of newbies at my yoga studio lately (thanks, Living Social!) and I’ve noticed that no matter how many times they are told that they should sit down if they feel overwhelmed during class, they are totally reluctant to do so.

I’ve been practicing four times a week for almost 3 years and I still sit out a posture when I am feeling spent. The newbies seem to think sitting out makes them weak.

That’s wrong.

Sitting out means you are respectful: you are respecting yourself, but you are also being respectful to others. If you don’t sit when you need to, you are probably pacing, throwing up, passing out, guzzling water, fanning yourself or running out of the room. All those things are much more distracting and rude to others than sitting quietly on your mat.

Sitting out means you are brave: sure, most people around you will be doing postures but you are not a lemming. You are individual enough to choose a different path when you need to. In this instance – screw the 98%.

Sitting out means you are present: you are practicing today. What you did or didn’t do yesterday is irrelevant. It’s gone. Let it go.

Sitting out means you are connected to your body: you are listening. You are not just bulldozing your way through because you think it makes you look cool.

Sitting out means you are humble: yoga is about honesty and killing the ego. When Bikram tells us to get in the hot room and “kill your self” this is what he is talking about. The true Self (with a capital S) would never worry about something so silly as this. So get over your self (with a small s) and sit your ass down.

Whether you are a newbie or an experienced practitioner, never ever let your pride keep you from hitting the mat when you need to. Of course, if you could do Trikanasana, but you would rather just chill on your mat like you are at a really humid picnic – that’s weak. But that’s generally not why we come to class.

When you do sit, sit proudly. Don’t crumple up in a ball or try to hide behind your towel. Sit tall. Get back on top of your breath. Meditate. Be grateful for this opportunity to sit on your mat and be grateful for that moment when you can get back up to join the rest of the community.

In those kinds of moments, you are truly living the practice.

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