Incapability to perform or hold an asana (yoga posture)
This can happen in any class. You’re on your mat doing your thing and moving in tune with your breath. Your body is strong and fluid, and your mind is open to new possibilities. You climb up to the top of the class to watch the teacher perform the asana you’ve been practicing. As the teacher effortlessly moves into the asana, you start to believe that you may be able to. You find yourself struggling to get into the pose. Your potential for what you thought you could do suddenly collapses in seconds.
You fall out. It feels like you’re fighting for your body to conform to a pretzel-like shape. You are left feeling defeated, ashamed, and frustrated.
To be clear, I am simply painting an image of myself. This has happened so many times that I can imaginarily imagine this scenario. I have been to many yoga classes, workshops, and practices where I could not do the highest pose. These (self-proclaimed failures) have taught me valuable lessons that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
These are the two tips I came up with that have helped me tremendously in my practice and daily life.
Accept the fact that there will always be someone who does it better.
As with all aspects of life, you will find difficult or challenging things in your yoga practice. Comparing yourself to others who seem to do these things effortlessly will lead to self-doubt, frustration and even anger.
It’s not yoga, so don’t take it too seriously!
This was something my first yoga teacher would tell us. He would watch us become harsher and push ourselves to the edge.
Playfulness is a virtue to cultivate in your life! Playfulness can take the pressure off the task and help you get the desired results. When we watch children play, there are many lessons to be learned. They will laugh and get up again if they do something silly like a cartwheel or fall on their heads. You can be playful and open to the present without worrying about what will happen. This is a great attitude for yoga and life. You will be more flexible if you are lighthearted.
Finally, consider your thoughts about doing a pose of yoga right.
The mind loves to judge. When practicing a pose, your mind will ask: “Am I doing it right?” Or “Am I doing it well?” Do you want to achieve a particular result (e.g., your hands reach your toes and make a certain shape), or do you want to feel good in your body by doing a yoga posture?
Recently, I’ve been more concerned about reducing the physical effort I put into my yoga practice. I’ve found that if I do 70 to 80% of my effort instead, it feels better for my body. I feel more energetic and vital. I can breathe deeper and maintain my ability to move and shift in the pose. This allows me to feel more space in my body and mind. This allows me to feel more at ease in my thoughts by always keeping space. When my mind starts to say things such as “you’re not doing enough”, I go back to my body to observe how the asana feels within my body. This is called “interoception”. If I let go of the tight grip on my body, I can also let go of the tight grip of my thoughts and experience the practice.
Instead of asking, “Am I doing it right?” I ask, “How does this feel?”. If it doesn’t feel good, then why bother? I will not get stronger or more flexible if I try to force it.