Yoga: There's a Reason It's Called a Practice
Why did you begin practicing yoga?
Why do you continue to practice yoga, day in & day out?
I grew up in a very competitive family. Game nights occasionally turned deadly, especially when Monopoly money was on the table. Because of my innate competitiveness & my incessant desire to win, I played a sport during every season in school. The first time I tried yoga, I didn’t understand why anyone would practice something that wouldn’t eventually allow them a chance at victory. That would be like going to basketball practice every day & working on drills, but never being able to use those skills in a game! Or starting a book that I would never be able to finish! I liked yoga as a method of fitness, but didn’t really understand the POINT of it as anything more.
Now that I’ve gotten more comfortable in my practice, I’ve realized the beauty of yoga is that there IS no finish line. You can always learn a new posture or dive deeper into an existing posture or make your arms just that tiny bit straighter or bring your leg up just that little bit higher! There are infinite layers to your practice that are waiting to be discovered & infinite victories to celebrate along the way! Are there are some poses that were beyond your capabilities when you first began your practice that you drop into with ease now? Are you less tired after a lengthy flow? Have your muscles gotten stronger with consistent practice? I bet the answer to all three of those questions was “yes,” which is amazing! You are amazing.
Just remember that your practice is a beautiful work-in-progress. Just because you can “do” certain poses doesn’t mean that you’ve “won.” One of my goals when I first started to practice was being able to get into a forearm headstand. I can now, consistently, & that brings me so much joy. But it also renews my sense of adventure & discovery because I want to get my legs just that tiny bit straighter. I want to get my core just that little bit stronger!
This is why yoga is called a practice! It’s not a game or a sport. There are no expectations when you get on your mat. No rules that you have to follow or series that you have to finish. You might choose to set a goal for the day; maybe you want to hold your wheel pose for twenty seconds or bind your hands in triangle for the first time. But maybe you just want to flow, with no particular endgame in mind. Even if you don’t set out to technically “accomplish” anything, you’ve still gotten on your mat. You’ve still practiced. You’ve still won the prizes that truly matter: self-love & self-care. Don’t wait to be content in your practice until your heels reach the ground in down dog or until you can execute a perfect tuck jump - that’s a recipe for deep unhappiness.
Your practice is about the relationship between you & your mat & how the postures better you, both physically & mentally. When you get on your mat, you’re doing so with an open mind, an open heart & a desire to do something nourishing for your body that day. Which is, in it’s own way, a victory.