Yoga must not be practiced to control the body; it is the opposite, it must bring
freedom to the body, all the freedom it needs.
--- Vanda Scaravelli
The deeper I get into my yoga practice the more I learn from it. By far the most important lesson for me has been that it is that it is all about practice, not perfection. That is really tough for many of us to understand since most of us have been raised to focus more on the end, the outcome, and the consequence of our actions rather than on the process itself. In any case, if we think of something as perfect, there is no room to grow. It means the process is completely finished. In yoga, each time I am in a pose I find my muscles learning how too deepen their stretch, allowing myself to be more patient with my body, holding my focus and I find my balance strengthening. But it never ceases to amaze me that I can have a day where I am able to do a balance pose with ease and I think to myself “Oh my goodness, I’ve got this!” and the very next day I fall out of the very same pose three times! Lol. It reminds me that life is fluid and no day is ever the same for the body and mind. My ability to maintain a pose in my practice is so often impacted by the type of day that I am having, the sleep that I had the night before, the mood that I am in, the length of my to do list, the list goes on. The truth is I don’t want perfect I am simply striving to be a better me.
One way I have found to support myself in my yoga practice is to think about and reflect on the things that I’ve done well during my practice and what I enjoyed the most, then I think about some things that I know that I need to work on. I try to finish my practice with a gratitude practice - thinking about what my yoga practice has brought to my life today. In the end, this works for all aspects of our life, though. Practice not perfection! So, we can think about what is going well in our lives on any given day regarding any given tasks. Then we can think about what we think we can improve, and finally what we are grateful for. We can do this daily.
The irony in all of this is that when you give up on trying to be perfect at something, THAT is when the real learning seems to take place! Yoga has been my masters or doctorate education on life. I love what it teaches me, not only about being on the mat but about being off the mat as well.
How about you? Have you been trying too hard to shoot for perfection? It may be time for you to take a child’s pose!