Yoga Practice not Yoga Perfect
I love the fact that yoga is a practice – something I have been reminded of during our ytt and a valuable reminder that perfection is not the goal. What we should always strive to do is become a better version of ourselves – we’re all a work in progress. Too many times in life we judge ourselves, and are judged by others, to someone else’s interpretation of what perfect is. Who are they to say what’s perfect? The same can be said in yoga as in life – yogis have got this spot on.
Yoga practice helps me to bring the stresses of everyday life into perspective. The ytt has been the most intensive yoga practice – or indeed any exercise regime – I have ever followed, and this has made me think about ‘practice’ even more. My interpretation of yoga practice is to constantly learn something new each and every time I do an asana or a class, and build on that in my next practice, and take the learning of the continuous practice into daily life. We’ve learned that asana means ‘easy and comfortable pose’ – quite criminal that I never knew that before, but it makes sense to me. So in my practice over the last few weeks, I’ve tried to think about this each and every time I attempt an asana, each and every day. Even if it’s one of the first poses I ever learnt – how do I feel more ‘easy and comfortable’ in this pose? Can I stretch my shoulders further back and down? Have I fully scooped in my tailbone? Can I engage my core more? Can I finally get my heels down in ado mukha shavasana? (and the answer is yes, I can, well after a bit or a warm up anyway!). Every time, there has been a slight adjustment or improvement I’ve been able to make to help the pose feel even more easy and comfortable. That’s what I’ve loved about practicing every day – every day I’ve felt an improvement, even if very slightly, in my asanas. There is never ‘perfect’, but there can always be progress – you can always push yourself more to improve. The same may be said for anything you encounter in life – what can I do to improve? I’m always doing this with my cooking – there’s always some tweak I can make to make a dish taste better – and if it doesn’t improve, well at least I’ve learnt not to do that again!
I always used to say I was a perfectionist – it’s a standard answer to an interview question. Retrospectively, that was probably my interpretation of what others expected of me – if it’s not perfect, I will have failed. What I know now is that I am not a perfectionist (though maybe slightly OCD…..), but what I am is determined to always try my best, never give up, make progress and improve every step of the way. My body might look different in a pose compared to the person next to me – they may give me inspiration – but mine is the best version of what I can do right now and I’ve made progress compared to the previous ‘me’, so that’s great! Be determined to improve, celebrate those improvements, learn from mistakes. Practice without expectation. Practice makes progress. Practice, practice, practice.