conforming to the perfect yoga pose

When people talk about yoga I'm instantly flooded with images of slim bodies elegantly contorting their bodies into perfect poses.  I envision them all to flawlessly touch their toes for forward bend pose, effortlessly balance on two hands for crow pose, gracefully bend into wheel pose, and joyously sit in full lotus pose. 

But when I go to a yoga class, the reality of that image is very different.  There are many people of all different shapes and sizes.  Most of them can't touch their toes with their belly flat on their chest.  Many of them can't hold their own body weight on two hands.  And some of them struggle to sit cross-legged with a straight back.  The truth is, every participant brings with them their own story, and this story includes their past experiences and knowledge, their injuries and conditions, and their own beliefs and attitudes.  

Still, this image of slim bodies elegantly contorting their bodies into perfect poses must also be on the minds of others (even if it's not the exact same image as mine).  


Because when I go to a yoga class I also see many people striving towards that perfect pose at all costs.  We're determined to touch our toes even though our hamstrings are screaming to stop.  We're determined to get our hand flat on the floor and reach for the sky even though the integrity of our spine has gone out the window.  And because everyone else is doing it, we're determined to bend over backwards to avoid feelings of shame or inadequacy.   

So next time you try a yoga class and you want to make it through the class without injuring yourself, remember this: do not conform to a pose, let the pose conform to you.  Find your truth in every single pose.  And for this to happen, you need to forget about everyone else in the room, turn down the volume of your mental chatter, and simply listen to your body.  Relax all your expectations.  Quit wanting to be better.  Quit wanting to be stronger.  Quit wanting to be more flexible or more balanced.   
You are already perfect just the way you are.  

When you truly get this, magic happens.  On and off your yoga mat!

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