Choosing Your Approach to Yoga Practice

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Within the world of yoga, it is easy to get carried away, wanting to master the same poses your neighbor achieves so well—or just wanting to keep up with the rest of the class.

The Dream and The Reality
I personally have to keep reminding myself this is not what yoga is about. As a teacher I too feel the pressure, for example to be able to do everything with elegance and ease.

Well, that is a dream. It’s not happening. Some poses are hard for me; some poses, I cannot even do. There are poses I don’t do very elegantly or the way some other yogi can do them. It’s the same thing over and over again, wanting something different than what reality presents you. In other words, suffering.

Your Practice Reflects Your Life
The way you live life is the way you most likely practice your yoga. Think about it for a moment: Are you a very determined or disciplined person? Do you get frustrated and angry very easily? Do you need to do everything perfectly? Are you usually quite hard on yourself and always push yourself, or do you never push yourself at all? Do you say you want to practice yoga but never find time, or do you make the time? It’s good to be aware of this and change your approach if you feel it should change!

You don’t want the way you live your life to influence the way you practice yoga—try for the reverse. You want the way you practice your yoga to inform the way you live your life! That’s how you take yoga with you off the mat and into your daily life.

That means slowing down if you know you are a go-go-go person. Practice gentleness if you normally push. Turn up the volume a bit if you never cross any boundaries, etc.

When you take a yoga class, consider this: How do you want to approach the class? You decide—and it takes a lot of awareness to be able to make a different choice than your normal pattern. But being aware and making the decision is so worthwhile because you’re creating the opportunity in your daily life to make a different choice, too!

Don’t worry if you are not able to do all the poses in a yoga class. Yoga is also about knowing when to back off, and maybe even more about your attitude toward a pose then about the actual form of the pose.

So lower your expectations, and enjoy learning about yourself and allowing yourself to change. Learn how to make different choices in your yoga practice, and after that in your life.

By Esther Ekhart

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