Have you seen the glamorous yoga magazines featuring perfect bodies striking these amazing, almost contortionists poses, and a little, or big, part of you wishes that you looked a bit like that and that your leg could reach even just halfway around your shoulder? It’s easy to think that those people are perfect yogis because clearly they have been practising for years, right? And those are the poses we will be able to do when we ‘arrive’ at being a perfect yogi. The truth is, beautiful as those poses are, there is no “striking a perfect pose” in yoga. We are not robots who move into a position and can stay absolutely static, the aim of yoga is not to bend you in two and give you marks out of ten. Every pose we do in yoga is a continuous movement, a journey through the pose. Sure, we work on perfecting our alignment, but the good news is that you can never do a perfect pose, we are all, regardless of ability, simply working on a pose, through the use of our breath, through internalising and controlling movement and muscle.
It was my teacher Sharon Watson who first brought this to my attention. And once I realised this in my yoga practice, it was such a relief. Wow, I thought, I didn’t ever have to be able to balance on my head for x amount of time to be a good yogi, I simply was a good yogi for giving a pose my full attention. I needn’t be able to touch my nose to my shins to get into a perfect forward bend, just moving with my body, along with its limitations in that direction was already beneficial to me, clearing my thoughts, stretching the back of my body and increasing my breathing capacity.
So, next time you are in class, when you find yourself looking around wishing you were more flexible, stronger or better aligned, remind yourself that there is no end goal, it is a work in progress and always will be because our bodies are ever-changing, as will our practice. Even the people in those amazing poses are a work in progress. Just go with it, accept it and enjoy the ride.