Achieving Perfection

Perfection in yoga can be a sticky subject. To many, the very idea of striving for it defeats the purpose of yoga.

A couple years ago I took a special event class with Alanna Kaivalya (whom I LOVE) that was all about Hanuman the monkey god. We did three hours of asana on that sweltering summer day in a room packed with as many people as would possibly fit. She said many things that would go on to inspire my own teaching for a while, but one statement in particular I found especially noteworthy. Somewhere in that three hours of sweaty vinyasa she said, "The only perfect pose is the one in which you find enlightenment." A truer sentence has rarely been spoken, but it almost makes you laugh once you realize just how simple yet true it is.

Beginning students tend to get wrapped up in all the little things that go into making a posture. They think that if their hands aren't flat on the floor in a standing forward bend that they must suck and they shouldn't even be bothering. It's very easy to spiral into this sort of defeatist attitude; but to be reminded that it doesn't have to be perfect - to honestly feel that truth - relieves that self-imposed pressure. Even if just for a moment, being able to accept what your body is capable of today frees some of that inner light and shines it brightly out on the world.

On the other end of that spectrum is the advanced student who tends to become complacent. People that have been practicing yoga for years can start to think "Yeah, here I am in triangle pose again. This is too easy, I'm getting nothing out of this." That individual would likely have a dull posture because there's no joy or effort in the posture. For this type of student, being reminded that "the only perfect pose is the one in which you find enlightenment" can pull her back into a beginner's mind. Then they can look at the pose from a new perspective... "Where can I find more space in the side body? If I lift my toes, can I better root through my legs? and hey, that allows me to open my chest more which makes me FEEL soooo good." Their whole pose begins to Radiate with light.  

Allow yourself to have fun with your yoga practice. Don't get bogged down with boredom or anxiety about being less than perfect. Keep Alanna's reminder with you when you practice... write it down, stick it on the wall, write it on your mat if you have to... and if you find enlightenment - let me know what pose you were in.

{Clearly these pictures are not of Forward Bend and Triangle... I couldn't find the pictures I really wanted... so I just went with happy fun pics}

1 comment:

maureencracknell said...

I agree, having fun with it IS very important!