by Angela Clark
A few weeks ago I decided to bake my mom’s blueberry muffins. When I pulled them out of the oven, they didn’t look quite right. They were small and rock-like and not at all how I remember them. When my husband came home he asked what ingredients I used, I gave him the list. When I got to ‘baking powder’, he asked if I used the baking powder that had been sitting in our pantry for five years. Of course, I had. Why? Does it go bad? I just assumed it was one of those ingredients that you didn’t use a lot of that, and so it could sit on one’s shelf for many years. Apparently, this is not true.
It got me to thinking about expiration dates. We have them on all food items. Even our computers have warranties, indicating we will need to replace them some time down the road. So perhaps applying the idea of an expiration date to received yoga instructions is not a bad idea either.
We do not have the same body today as we did 10 years ago, or five years ago, or even one year ago. We may have started our yoga practice with tight hamstrings and so the instruction of lifting your sitz-bones in Downward Facing Dog may have been helpful. But, if your hamstrings have opened over time, that instruction may not serve you any more, and it’s possible that doing just the opposite might be better-suited for your body.
So how do we know when to discard an instruction? Through our discerning mind. Through careful practice and thoughtful movement. By listening to what our body is telling us. By paying attention when we are practicing. To what’s happening on our yoga mat.
Instructions have expiration dates, advice has expiration dates and, yes, baking powder has an expiration date.