The above quote is from Dr. Andreo Spina, founder of the Functional Range Conditioning system of mobility training...an incredibly smart approach to working with the body.
I've been exploring his techniques for developing mobility for a while now, and a few weeks ago I took a certification in the system (I'm now an officially designated FRC 'mobility specialist' :))...and this exploration has led me to question many things that I previously thought I 'knew'.
Many of us, myself included, place a lot of store in 'knowing things', in looking for concrete answers and being 'sure' about things. Sometimes we look to science to support this knowledge...without acknowledging that science (like everything else) is also not fixed, but an evolving entity.
And I have to say that yoga's pedagogy can often be particularly guilty of making statements of fact that leave little room for questions, challenge or evolution.
Personally I believe that part of the reason is due to the heritage of the 'guru culture' in yoga - that the teacher's instructions are to be accepted as fact and not questioned.
If you read the hatha yoga scriptures you'll find many descriptions of the benefits of practising poses (including eternal life!) presented as absolute certain fact...many of these assertions (and more recent ones too) have become so ingrained that they are no longer questioned.
For example I often hear it stated with confidence that practising shoulder stand 'is beneficial for thyroid problems' - but there is absolutely NO evidence to support this...the only thing we can be sure about is that practising shoulder stand makes you better at doing shoulder stand (unless you hurt your neck...).
This is just one example but I could list countless others.
If you contrast this with the approach taken by movement scientists and trainers you will find that they often use the 'language of possibility' (e.g. the current evidence suggests that doing x MAY lead to y) - and their assertions are usually supported by considered research rather than seemingly being plucked out of thin air.
So where does this somewhat ironic attachment to accepted wisdom in yoga stem from - is it a lack of empowerment (accepting what we're told because it comes from a 'higher authority'), dogmatism, quality of training, laziness...or because things are being taken out of the context for which they were originally intended?
I don't know, but I do feel that it's very limiting because 'knowing' limits the potential for discovery and asking questions - if everything is fixed then where is the opportunity for uncovering new possibilities? Surely yoga is first and foremost a practice of exploration, of diving into our inner experience and finding our own truth?
It's also very liberating to be open to exploring new possibilities and revising our perspective when we discover approaches that serve us better (as long as we're clear on why we're doing something a particular way, and, to quote Dr.Spina again, we're 'confident in our current interpretation').
This is why you may occasionally notice that I'm teaching something differently to the way I was 6 months ago - because I'm always looking to evolve my teaching in ways that serve my students best
So how about rather than being satisfied with 'knowing' we embrace 'not knowing' instead - always questioning, always exploring, always discovering new possibilities and always seeking to expand our understanding?
Thanks for reading and enjoy your practice.