When I first started doing yoga, I would push and prod my body into shapes that I had no business being in. When I forced my body to look like the person in the yoga magazine, I felt accomplished. The feeling of accomplishment is what kept me coming back to my yoga mat, but you can only push and prod so far before things start to breakdown. What I didn’t realize was the person in the magazine had been practicing yoga for years before their body was open enough to move into the shapes of the most challenging yoga poses. I was comparing my couple of weeks of practice to their 20 years of practicing. I had expectations of floating into a adho mukha vrksasana (handstand) and moving into full hanumanasana (slit pose), but apparently, even after practicing for years my body has other ideas.
From my yoga mat, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned to allow, instead of judging; let go, instead of comparing; offer my best, instead of having expectations. These are things I take off my mat and into the world. I now come to my mat to discover more of who I am, instead of competing to be something I’m not, and pushing my body into shapes that it is not ready for. The mat is where I practice for the real world, and the real world lets me know how well practice is going.