By Susi Amendola
Imagine if we started our yoga practice with the idea that we don't need fixing; that we are whole and perfect just as we are. All the energy spent "trying to be better" would disappear and we would be free to explore and enjoy ourselves without trying to change things. Too often the sense that we are not enough and we are not OK often underlies our desire to do Yoga. We think, "Yoga will somehow make me a better person."
If instead we stopped all that, our yoga practice would look very different. As Master teacher Amy Matthews writes in her book Yoga Anatomy, "then you can do yoga to enjoy your perfection and not to try to fix yourself." Once we feel like we aren't broken and don't need fixing we can bring back the enjoyment and the curiosity that lends itself to self-exploration. We can be curious about ourselves in our practice and observe what is arising for us in the moment. We stop trying to do a pose the "right way" and we find "our" way.
We Are Enough
Trying to make a pose perfect implies that we have to try harder and be more. The trying harder actually creates more stress and it may have more of a negative effect on our health by taking us out of the moment to try to be in some ideal we have of the pose.
Trying to make a pose look like someone else's pose, or like a picture of a pose we have seen somewhere, can lead to a violation of our own experience. A pose in fact will look very different to an outsider viewing several people doing the same pose. One person may be practicing the cobra pose sitting in a chair while another is practicing it on the floor. One may have their legs apart, another their legs together, and one person may be lifting their head a couple of inches. All the same pose, but different expressions.
We all have to answer to our own bodies in a yoga practice. We are not practicing yoga if we don't adapt to our own conditions and circumstances. For example, when our yoga teacher tells us to "sit up straight," we often adjust ourselves according to what we think they want us to do. We may push up through the top of the head and flatten the curves in the spine and thrust our chest forward while holding our breath.
The truth is we can inadvertently do more harm than good when we try to adhere to an idea of a pose we think is good for us. The spine is meant to have curves and our weight distribution and nervous system depends on that. If we impose some idea that we think we should be doing to create a form that we think is "right," it may not have a positive effect on us in the end. Rather, if we drop into our own body and feel the balance of support under our sitting bones, we may find a feeling of grounding that gives rise to a sense of freedom and ease in the spine. From there, we can find a sitting pose that is efficient, dynamic and relaxed... a pose that is ours.
Being vs. Doing
When yoga is imposed from the outside, from what we think we should be doing or feeling, it stops us from finding our own yoga. This idea that we have to look a certain way in our postures can color our entire experience of yoga and create all sorts of obstacles to our enjoyment of a movement practice.
Imagine if your Yoga was a practice of "being in your body" rather than doing something to your body. Imagine if your practice of yoga was only about feeling the vibrant pulsing of sensation and inter connectedness of your own being. Perhaps then you would be able to really enjoy the perfection that is you.
How do you feel when you start your yoga practice with the idea that you are already whole and perfect?
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