With the Internet, social media and slick glossy yoga magazines, we consistently see images of yogis performing beautifully-challenging yoga poses (asanas). They wear brightly-colored $100 yoga pants and appear to have the perfect lean yoga body, that so many of us crave.
What you might not realize is that these impressive pictures have been staged, many shots were taken to achieve that perfect photo, and they have likely been photoshopped or altered in some way to hide imperfections. So often, these pictures of “yogalebrities” are taken to help feed the yogi’s ego — Look at me and how I great I am at yoga!
We all come to the mat for different reasons and I’m not writing this to pass judgement. I think it’s fantastic when these photos and videos help new students get interested in yoga and inspire experienced practitioners to take their practice even deeper. But for many of us, when we see these circus-like poses we’re left feeling less than because we can’t achieve the same posture as seemingly effortlessly. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s okay that you’re you! Being able to get into a yoga pose is not the purpose of practicing yoga.
In fact, yoga isn’t about the pose at all. The purpose of yoga is to unify the mind, body and breath; and practicing asana is one way for us to do that. Sure, today you might be able to touch your heels to the floor with straight legs in downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana) or press yourself up into a beautiful handstand (adho mukha vrksasana) without using a wall. But are you any less of a yogi if you can’t? Of course not!
Let go of attachment to the outward expression of physical poses. Take the time to really tune into your body during your asana practice and honor how you truly feel on a given day.