Some think that being an advanced yoga practitioner means to be able to balance on your head, to do fancy arm balances that look good on Instagram or to be able to bend like a pretzel in legs behind the head. But being an advanced yoga practitioner has nothing to do with that.
You might be strong and you might be flexible, but as long as you do not do your practice with the right intention and you push against all odds only to conquer that pose even when you are not ready for it, it will remain just a pose. You have to be willing to be patient and kind with yourself and to be open to receive new knowledge without judging or making presumptions that you already know it all. This too is yoga. And this can be even more challenging than putting your legs behind the head.
Almost like everyone else that started practicing yoga outside India, I was first attracted by the poses. I just loved how one hour on the mat could release all the stress built up throughout a whole day at the desk. I read articles and I heard some people saying that yoga is NOT about the poses, but the poses are a tool to see yourself. It took a while to understand what they meant by saying that and I’m sure that what I understood is just a small part of a bigger story.
If I could make a comparison, even though it’s not exactly the same, it’s almost like doing weight lifting to feed your narcissistic behavior and focus on just looking good instead of taking the lesson that comes from practicing sports which is to become a healthier and stronger YOU, physically, but most of all mentally. Do not be a quitter, nor someone that focuses on fast results, but someone that keeps trying and trying and trying. The most important changes happen after a long period of time of continuously working with yourself. This too is yoga!
After a while I was amazed to see how my practice on the mat started reflecting who I am outside of the mat, some feelings, thoughts, emotions, fears… It was reflecting how I am and also how I was feeling that particular day. This doesn’t happen in a day, a year or two, but starts showing up when you are dedicated and you do your practice regularly, not only on the mat, but outside of the mat too.
Practicing from time to time can bring a feeling of relaxation and well being, but it is not the same with regular practice whether you have a good day or a bad one.
Things change and can become deeper and more meaningful, but in order for that to happen, one must decide to be open to receive new knowledge and put some effort into it. Nobody can do things in your place. To be a responsible human being for all your actions and decisions, is a sign of maturity .
The person that practices yoga gets the full story. If you only limit yourself to the perfection of your pose, then you miss the point. There is clearly a difference, a really big one between being soft and being flexible, as well as between being strong and being hard.
Don’t limit yourself to only that what the eyes perceive.
What is your intention when you get on your mat?