Yoga requires a participant to fully immerse themselves with themselves. From your breath to your toes, your whole self is on display for you. Allowing yourself to try more challenging poses or hold poses for an extended period of time or something that seems more simple, like changing the way you exhale, can feel like a daunting task on some days (or maybe most days). Trying can feel like the most difficult challenge of all. Whether it’s something new or something you’ve done before, it can be hard to render yourself vulnerable. However, this is exactly what a yoga practice requires, vulnerability and honesty. We get to know where we are, exactly as we are, today.
Trying something new is easier in a way, because you‘ve never done it, so you don’t have a comparison of yourself having done it. Stepping outside you’re designated comfort zone is still a challenge, and there are plenty of way to still feel discouraged, but with something new you can excuse yourself easier. Trying something new can feel more exciting and make you curious about the outcome.
Trying something again, that you don’t feel like you’re “good” at, can be another level of vulnerability. Continuously doing something that you feel you’re not “good” at, tasks you mentally to let go of your preconceived notions. The challenge isn’t whatever you’re being asked to do again, the challenge is to try to do this task with the same curiosity as the first time.
In a personal yoga practice we’re cultivating curiosity of ourselves. We’re trying to uncover all there is to know about ourselves today. Unfortunately the tendency when uncovering information is to focus on the lack. What wasn’t there, what didn’t happen, and so on. So many beautiful moments are missed focusing lack.
The saying goes that “the grass is greener on the other side” but the grass is greener where you water it, focus on what you’re trying to achieve and what you’re capable of now.
For those that are habitual self doubters or negative thinkers, switching from negativity (or lack-thinking) to positivity is going to require practice, just like everything else. Don’t be discourage when you’re trying to swap to more positive, curiosity oriented thoughts, if negative ones are still coming up for you, especially initially. Your first thought is your habit thought, it’s your initial reaction, but you don’t have to stay with it, you can challenge it with something positive.
For example, in seated forward fold, you may have been able to touch your toes yesterday, but today the back of your legs are tight and you‘re barely getting past your knees
Some initial thoughts may come up for you like, “why can’t I do this?”, ”I’m trying as hard as I can but I’m going nowhere”, “I am not flexible enough”. Turning these thoughts into positive ones means focusing on what IS happening. “Oh I can touch my knees, my legs feel tight today so I’ll focus on keeping my upper body at a tall posture and as I exhale maybe see if I can hinge down towards my feet more”.
This is one way of thinking more positively about where you are today. Another example would be to utilize props. “My legs are tight today so if I want to touch my toes I’ll need to sit on a block or bolster“.
The main objective is taking the judgement away from your body. You’re learning what it is capable of, and from there you can adjust your personal goals. If being able to touch your toes is important to you, then you’ll know to focus more on stretches that help with that area. If touching your toes is not important to you, then any progress you see in that area will be a happy little accident, and you can turn your attention to what you do want to focus on.
No one is required to be all things. Challenge yourself to come to your yoga practice with curiosity, what can you discover about yourself today? Try to be in what IS happening and enjoy the journey.