I used to think yoga was all about accomplishing the goal of a posture. Can’t kick my leg out in Standing Head to Knee? Work to kick the leg out in Standing Head to Knee. Can’t get my hips to touch the floor in Fixed Firm or Hero Pose? Work to get the hips to the floor. Can’t get into Lotus? Work to get into Lotus. It was all goals, all the time. And some days, or weeks, or even months at a time, it can still feel like that to me.
But, having been at this for quite some time, I know without a doubt that it’s not about the goals of each posture and realizing them within my own body. In fact, it’s never really been about that at all.
The reason I am so sure of this, is that I have hit goals within a posture that I never believed I could, and, yes, each one of these moments was awesome and memorable and something I am proud of, and, yet… there was still more to learn. There was a next step or a posture similar, yet more involved that could be sought out and cultivated within the body and the mind. So, even though I was excited to achieve a goal, there were new dreams to dream once the goal was achieved.
Looking back upon my accomplishments within my yoga asana practice some of the most powerful and impressionable moments for me were not when I was at my best, but instead when I was vulnerable and raw – when the yoga had pushed me into a place within my heart that cried out to be released in order for me to move forward, not only with the posture, but with my life. For me, these were the moments I needed to achieve to become the best version of my Self. There is nothing like walking out of the studio feeling ten pounds lighter because you released two years of emotions that could not be shown at the time that they were happening, but silently resided in my shoulders and hips, my low spine, and my heart to wait for their final exit.
For me, the postures are merely a tool to help you find balance. Most people would read that sentence and say, “Of course! All yoga teachers and practitioners say that. What’s new here?” Nothing really, is my reply. But I mean balance in a much different way. Yes, my hips feel the best they’ve felt in ten years right now. I’m doing a ton of physical asana work to get them there. But the inside work that led me to wanting to correct what is going on with my hips was much more important than corrections I am making within my practice. This year alone I’ve dived into figuring out my money blocks, I continued my forgiveness work – for myself and others, I let go of always wanting to make the perfect impression to allow people to love me for me, and I’ve been making scary, adult, business decisions. And it’s only the beginning of April.
Everything is working together. When you better your Self away from your mat, your practice changes. When you work for better alignment and to truly heal within the confines of your time on the mat, your life away from your mat improves as well. So, it’s not about the posture. It’s about what you learn from the posture within each moment you worked to breathe through the discomfort of it, or your found ease where there once was dissonance.
Though I work with students to get them to achieve their goals on the mat, it isn’t about whether or not they ever achieve those goals. What matters most is that they start to believe they are possible. Because that in itself is the pretty powerful stuff. That thought alone can heal.
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