At times it seems like us mere mortals can only dream of ‘one day’ achieving the more challenging yoga asanas. Images of quasi-contortionist yogis portray the image that this is what modern-day yoga is all about and, let’s be honest, makes us feel a little inadequate. But rest assured, this is not what yoga is about. Of course, it’s nice to have something to aspire to, to work towards, and the sense of accomplishment one would feel if ever Vrschikasana (Scorpion Pose) was accomplished, for example, would be immense, but yoga is much more than gymnastics or acrobatics.
“You are where you are meant to be”
In the classes I go to one thing that all my teachers say without fail, is “wherever you are today in the posture is where you are meant to be” and I really appreciate them reminding me of this every time. It helps me avoid the temptation to look around and compare myself to others but guides me towards focussing solely on my own personal practice and where my body wants to take me on any given day.
The idea of “non-competition” in yoga is one that is conveyed through the yamas that are discussed in the book “The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” and is a concept that has been very helpful to me. It doesn’t say directly “thou shalt not compare thyself to others in a yoga class” but rather this is one of the ways that the yamas can be interpreted and applied to one’s yoga practice. I won’t go into depth about the Yoga Sutras here as this is a vast study and one I am only just learning about but this is one of the key texts on yoga philosophy and well worth reading.
On a personal level, while I know where my body is able to take me at the moment, I would still like to achieve some of the more challenging asanas – ones that I know are within my reach – and have a mental list of the ones I want to work towards but these will not be achieved without practice. I won’t magically one day wake up and find myself freestanding in Adho Mukha Vrksasana (handstand) unless I practice it regularly. With this realisation that practice (and patience) will take you anywhere you want to go and that your body will get there in its own time, I feel a little more inspired and will remember to be a little kinder to myself too.