Every day we are bombarded with images by the social media of people with perfect bodies performing perfect yoga poses. Sometimes I feel that yoga in the western culture has lost its true essence, that on a physical level you should be able to also work on a circus in order to do yoga… I understand that yoga teachers must be able to make a living somehow, to be able to pay their rent, to advertise what they do, but what happens when the student finally comes to class? What is the goal?
Being a yoga teacher I hear various comments from people that want to start practicing yoga but they hesitate. They think stuff like this: “I am not flexible enough”, or “I am too fat”, or “will yoga help me to have a fit body”, or even “I am too stressed or distracted”. I also hear people say “I am practicing yoga but I am not good at it”. What “good” really means in a practice like this?
In a chat/interview that I had with Monica Gauci (that it will be published soon) she told me something really interesting:
“Before social media people that practiced yoga were actually not the flexible ones, because photos and all this show off of “look what I can do” didn’t exist, so the flexible lost their interest quickly.”
I really like that yoga is becoming a trend, like running and healthy food. Everything that is a trend and is good for us is perfect. My objection lays to the fact that we have to understand that yoga is for everybody, the only criteria is that you should be able to breathe in order to do yoga. The goal is to tune in and not even more out.
And that’s where usually the problems begin, is a good yogi the person that performs perfectly a yoga pose? But when you say inhale nothing in their torso moves? or the person that breaths calmly through the whole practice, he who respects his body and don’t demands from it to serve him on whatever his mind think. There are people that really torture their body in their practice, they get injured in the name of the perfect pose. Is this Yoga?
So what happened? We carried the western way of thinking in the classes… How many asana you do? Ohhh I can do less. Which series of ashtanga yoga are you practicing? Who is better, faster, stronger, more beautiful? I‘ll answer that for you, NOBODY. Let me tell you that by observing bodies everyday we are all different, some things are easy for one person others are not, and that’s why we complete each other and everything works! It is wonderful to work for something, goals give meaning to our life, but you have to understand that this game has no end. You can try as hard as you want but there always will be something better, faster or stronger and at the end does it really matter? NO! It’s your journey that matters and it’s only yours!
There will be days that you really want to practice, and others that you don’t. Do you listen to your body? Do you accept your current situation? Do you count your value depending on how many poses you can do or are you are modifying your practice on your body daily needs? Does the practice has a positive impact on your psychology and your life generally? If the answer is yes, then in my opinion you have done great work with yourself, and it means you are “good” in yoga.
It is your presence on the mat that matters, the date you have with yourself and how you treat yourself in the process. Is it with judgement and disappointment or with compassion and love? Every human being is perfect as it is, the Supreme, the Divine lives inside you now and every moment! One of my teachers says “Make your mat a loving place”
What do you do on your mat?