Yoga is an individual practice and there is no perfect.
Over the years, I have heard Deepak Chopra speak and was recently treated to another one of his nuggets. He said that a key aim of our yoga practice is to be able to “observe ourselves, without judging ourselves.” When we can drop into that inner space of self-reflection and inquiry, we begin to release the entanglement of our thoughts and get to know the truth of who we really are.
We have a given. We’re human. We’re judgmental. It’s our nature, and deepened through conditioning, we toss judgment at not only others, but ourselves as well, often in a harsher and stinging way. I don’t know of many people who upon awakening, look in the mirror, beam and exclaim, “Well, good morning, Sunshine!” We are sold on the myth that something in us is broken and needs improving. We are sold on the belief that we need to change who we are, as if what we are isn’t enough. Whether we are “sold” on these notions or we are programmed to have a negative bias are ideas that can be debated. Nonetheless, as I explore this path, I’m trying to re-frame that thinking to remember that who and what I am is enough. I just need to get away from distractions in order to listen to my inner wisdom. It all sounds so simple, and yet, it is an amazing challenge.
I am also struck when people make comments about somebody being “good” at yoga. They may be talking about a person’s ability to strike a pose that so many of us may never even get close to assuming. I like to say that nobody is good or bad at yoga. We all practice yoga, and where the practice takes us is to those places where we are deeply challenged. Some things come more easily to some people and others may find the identical thing to be difficult. For example, I can do a handstand all by myself in just about any location with a somewhat level surface. I have been turning myself upside down ever since I can remember, and being inverted and viewing the world from that perspective feels comfortable to me and is “easy.” Now, if I did a handstand in the middle of a class, some people might look at it and think, “Wow…she’s really good at yoga,” and I get that.
What many people might miss are the things that are hard for me. The physical element of yoga has always been the easiest part of the practice for me. Quieting my mind, finding stillness, self-love, and acceptance has been hard. I stepped onto my yoga mat with none of those abilities and realized that I needed something beyond the physical practice. So my being “good” at yoga is a myth; I practice what I need to remember the most, what is the least accessible, and that’s the path of going inward.
So, as we release the judgment piece of the practice, we step into greater presence and curiosity. As Walt Whitman said, “Be curious, not judgmental.”
Jayne Robertson is owner and instructor at Desert Yoga Therapy in Rancho Mirage. For more information, visit www.desertyogatherapy.com or call (760) 456.5160. firstname.lastname@example.org.