How flexible I am, is not important.
How strong I am, is not important.
How present I am, is very important.
All too often people come to me and say they cannot do yoga because they are not flexible or strong enough. I cannot stress enough that this is not the goal of yoga. We can be the most flexible or the strongest practitioner in the room, but if that practitioner is not present then the point has been lost.
There are days when I power through my practice. I feel rushed, perhaps I feel bored or just cant be bothered. Whilst I’ve completed my 90 minute sequence, I don’t finish feeling like I have deepened my connection to myself in any way, shape or form. Rather, I’ve treated my asana practice like a gym practice. Get it over and done with then rush into my day. This is far from satisfying. During a practice like this I tend to feel weak, sore and inflexible.
The interesting irony is the slower my practice, the stronger I feel and the more flexible I am. Why? Because I’m taking time to actually observe where I need to switch on, where I need to relax, where I need to take my breath etc etc. I’m witnessing, observing and experiencing what my body needs in every moment which allows me to delve deeper.
Yoga means to yolk. It is about the union of body, breath and mind. Yoga does not necessarily need to happen on a mat. Last year, during the four hour drive from Bangalore, India, to Mysore (where my teacher lives) I asked my driver if he practices yoga. His reply has stayed with me as I found it so vulnerable and inspiring. “No mam, I do not practice. I do not have time to practice yoga. Driving is my yoga.” I was mesmerized by his answer. This man spent his days driving people from here to there and back again, and he found solace through this. He was totally present to what he was doing, making driving his meditation, his yoga.
You see, it is not important what a pose looks like or how ‘good’ we are at the pose. Whilst it’s nice to ‘achieve’ a pose, it’s quite a shallow way to look at the practice. For if we are not there to experience it (the pose) then what’s the point?
Granted, some days you will be more present that others. And that is OK. Yoga is a devotional practice. One must practice daily to experience one’s full potential. To notice the fluctuations of body and mind. This is how we come to know ourselves better. This is how we develop strength and flexibility, not just of the body, but more so of the mind.
Practice every day. Let go of any agenda. And if it’s a distracted practice today. Don’t worry. Try again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.
If you’re ready to get started with yoga and feel a little nervous, then our Beginners Yoga: 4-Week Intro Program might be just the thing for you.