Yoga is a great way to take stock
Our physical body is the best point of reference we have of how our decisions affect us. Yoga helps us take an inventory of all that is working, and all that is not.
Over the years, I’ve come to see there are different ways that I respond to this inventory. At the beginning, I accepted my limitations. I would try a new pose and think, ‘oh well, my arms aren’t long enough,’ or ‘I’m clearly not a flexible person.’ I would assume other people in the class were more in proportion, or that they just had something I didn’t.
Then I came to realise it wasn’t my body that was holding me back, but the way I was thinkingabout my body – these decisions to accept what I supposedly was and wasn’t capable of. Having tight hamstrings, say, isn’t simply an indication that those particular muscles aren’t flexible, rather it shows the inflexibility of my mind, which is held in place by such a rigid view.
Yoga teaches a mindful way of moving and a practice that leads to expansion of the body, and also the mind and soul. It may be that it serves us to think that certain poses are beyond our capability, that we don’t have the frame or the balance to achieve some asanas, but how does this way of thinking serve us?
For many years, I accepted that headstand would never be a part of my practice, even though I’ve always wanted to do one. It finally became apparent to me that my inability to do a headstand wasn’t because my body wasn’t made for such a pose, rather that I had decidedit wasn’t. And how was this decision affecting me? I would feel sad if that pose came up in class – envious of the yogis who were able to perform it, and also those who were giving it a go. Yoga has helped me take stock – that all important inventory. It showed me that this state of mind wasn’t working for me anymore.
Slowly, I’ve been able to ask myself, ‘what story am I holding on to that no longer serves me?’ Yoga offers the opportunity to turn negatives into positives. I was able to see that my practice had deepened and developed over the years, that something always brought me back to the mat. What if I used this experience to transform the way that I felt about headstands? I could make a new decision based on a commitment to soul expansion. Saying to myself that, one day, headstand will be part of my practice feels so much better than telling myself that I can’t.