I have been following many yoga pages and Instagram accounts of yogi’s the past years since I started practicing yoga almost 10 years ago. One thing that I surely notice was the shift from posting yoga mantras, thoughts, or reflections to posting super (acrobatic) yoga poses at the most advantaged level.
Don’t get me wrong, I think those pictures are beautiful and can be helpful when explaining a pose or capturing an inspirational moment. I also think it’s great when someone is so bendy, balanced and concentrated to be able to hold those positions, however, they blur the actual message of yoga and what it actually means more and more.
How do you feel when you look at those images or watch people in your yoga classes do some poses?
Especially people who are just starting out with yoga, seeing those incredible yoga poses can create pressure and even lead to frustration and disappointment in themselves.
I am SURELY still not a pro, nor can I do all yoga poses even after practicing for almost 10 years. For example, I cannot do a head- or hand stand if my life would depend on it. I simply CAN’T, and I know that it is not because I couldn’t physically do it.
Our bodies can actually do anything. It’s only our heads and doubtful thoughts that prevent us from doing it. And that’s exactly why it’s called “yoga practice” and not “yoga exercise” or “yoga fitness.”
Sure, yoga keeps us fit and healthy, and builds those long lean muscles, too, but that’s only a nice side effect and not the reason why one should practice yoga. It’s about what is happening and changing within us during the practice.
Did you know that every pose has a meaning and helps you work on certain emotions?
For example, it took me 7 (!) years to finally do the full wheel pose, which is a heart opener pose: LITERALLY. As for me, tears ran down my face when I moved back on the mat after pushing myself all the way up to the full wheel pose. I simply needed all those years to learn to open up again and to still feel safe while doing it.
And that’s what yoga is: inner work. Self-reflection. Self-acceptance. Dealing with emotions by facing them and letting them go.
Yoga is NOT about being flexible, skinny, athletic, young, tall, … you name it. We don’t need to have a certain body shape or the fanciest yoga gear.
All we really need for our yoga practice is an open mind, patience with ourselves, and the understanding that we are never alone on the mat, because our breath is with us throughout the whole practice.
Our breath is the most important “yoga prop” because it helps us hold any yoga position. And remember, a yoga position stands for something within in you that you would like to work on.
“Don’t hold your breath. Yoga is not a race of poses. Yoga is about breathing. If you don’t breathe you’re not doing yoga, you’re only doing gymnastics.”
~Namaste` my dear Yogilators. Keep on practicing, but please remember that we are all unique. Each body is different and some of us are simply not build to do some positions.
So whenever you feel frustrated or disappointed, acknowledge it and remember that this is part of the yoga practice as well. Notice what it does to you when you cannot stay in the “tree pose” or “eagle pose” and work on those thoughts and feelings you have towards yourself in those moments.
Remember that our bodies love us unconditionally, no matter how negligent or careless we sometimes treat them. Plus, we are all in the same boat and have to fight our own inner battles, and yoga is there to help you, not to work against you.