Yoga is about so much more than the pose. Let me share why, through my reflections as a student and teacher of yoga…
I’ll be honest with you… I am so guilty of posting photos on social media that present me in the best (usually filtered) light. Whilst it’s important for me to do so, to promote myself and my business, I have become increasingly aware of the impact that these types of images of yoga poses has on all of us.
What is yoga if it’s not about the poses?
Yoga poses (otherwise known as asana) are actually just 1 of 8 elements that make up yoga. And as we delve into the ancient, sacred yoga texts, we realise that they not once do they mention what the poses should look like.
Anyone who knows me knows that I teach alignment. I understand the importance of anatomy, physiology and sacred geometry. However I also I acknowledge that each body is structurally different.
Unfortunately, we are rarely shown the uniqueness of peoples’ bodies, rather the proliferation of ‘perfect’ poses by genetically gifted practitioners. Though ultimately, there is no one-size- fits-all alignment and no one-size- fits-all pose.
This brings me to my second point.
Props and modifications. Love or hate ‘em, these babies are the key to finding the ‘comfortable seat’ of yoga poses even if they don’t look especially pretty.
I’m not a former dancer or gymnast as a lot of yogis are. Handstands don’t come easily to me. I can’t do the splits. I had hip surgery at 21. Every pose I do comes with a great deal of work and discipline. And sometimes, my yoga poses doesn’t look like my teachers.
So, what’s a yogi to do?
My advice? Come to your mat, stay present and ask your body what it wants. This will help you to step away from the ego and take the modification if you need.
Remember, what your body needs one day, may not be what it needs the next. The beauty of practice is that it constantly evolves.
The notion that using props or modifications is cheating, is damaging to our perceptions.
So next time you’re offered a yoga prop, please accept it.
Be curious about your practice and watch as the ego tries to take over.
Question why you want to move onto the next level of the pose. Is it because you are ready to find strength and stillness there with breath coming slowly and easily? Or are you attached to a ‘performance’ and what you look like to others?
See also 15min Yoga For Flexibility
If you need to bend your knees in down face dog, do it.
If you need to use a block in half moon, use it.
Every body is different, so just keep doing you and remember:
“Understanding without practice is better than practicing without understanding. But residing in your true nature is better than understanding or practice.” – Upanishads
See also 4 Incredible Benefits of Yin Yoga
Did you find my reflections helpful or resonating? I’d love to hear your thoughts on a time when you felt you may not have been flexible enough and how you overcome this? Pop in the comments below.
P.S. Who do you know that works to achieve the ‘perfect’ pose or doesn’t like props? Share this with them know – they’ll be grateful for the reassurance and thank you for it later!
P.P.S Don’t forget to enter the draw to win a FREE yoga mat! Simply subscribe to our youtube channel (here), and then via the form here (in 25 words or less), tell us why you want to win a stylish, eco-friendly UNIT NINE (U9) yoga mat.