Just because I can doesn’t mean I should.
It took me a long time to recognize and internalize this truth in my yoga practice and I spent years doing poses that—although I could do them—weren’t beneficial to my body.
Deep down, I knew it.
Part of the problem was that I had immersed myself in a yoga community and tradition where asana was approached with a “one size fits all” mentality. It took me several years and injuries to realize that “one size” was not fitting me. I was born with dodgy hips and I was rapidly making them more dodgy through yoga. One person’s yoga medicine is another person’s cartilage tearing trauma.
Bodies, of course, are not the same. China knows this and, I’m told, analyzes the bone scans of Olympic gymnastic hopefuls to determine who will make the development squad. Apparently, certain skeletal structures are more likely to withstand the years of rigorous training and perform to the required level of amazingness. Which brings me back to my hips; just because I can do certain poses doesn’t mean I should.
I eventually made my way to the People’s Republic of Vinyasa and, most importantly, to a home-based practice where I learned (and continue to learn) to listen to and honor my body.
Traditions are important, but they exist to serve us, not the other way around. Not every yoga pose is good for every body. If your deep inner knowing is that a particular asana or adjustment isn’t right for you, own it and honor it—allteachers and traditions aside.
Paula Grace Watkins lives between Sydney and Byron Bay, Australia. She’s an academic (PhD in refugee mental health), yoga teacher, activist, blogger and raw food fanatic. Visit her at www.thehumangarden.com.au
Ed: Sara Crolick