Yup, that’s it.
Were you hoping for a different answer or a quick fix? There isn’t one.
It’s natural to look around the room during a yoga class and wonder why your pose doesn’t look like your neighbor’s. I still catch myself doing this from time to time.
The truth is, the difference between you and the person next to you might just be that they’ve had more practice.
There is a reason yoga is called a practice. You have to practice doing it. You have to show up. If you do, you will improve. If you don’t, you won’t. It’s that simple.
I’m going to assume that we all know how to ride a bike. Can you remember the first time you learned how? Was it a piece of cake? Did it feel natural? Did you fall off? For a few, it may have come easy. But for the majority of us, it took something called…gee, I don’t know…practice.
The first time I got on my bike, I fell. I threw my bike down and announced that I was never riding again. I think I was five or six years old, and I meant it. I didn’t get back on my bike for an entire year. Sure, it came easier a year later—but think of what I missed.
I missed the opportunity to work through a challenge. I missed the opportunity to continue in spite of frustration. I missed the opportunity to learn from failure. Most importantly, I missed the opportunity to gain confidence through perseverance. While I was afraid of looking silly, everyone else was outside gaining a whole year of experience without me!
Yoga is the same way.
Flexibility isn’t something that happens to us. Neither does balance or strength. We need to work at it in the same way we would any other skill.
It’s important to remember that improvement comes in many forms. Nailing a pose isn’t the only way to measure progress—especially since yoga poses contain so many nuances. It can take a lifetime to learn them all.
Perhaps sitting still is very difficult for you. Over time, it might become less challenging. With practice, your breath might become less strained and flow easier. You will be able to hold poses longer as your stamina increases. Your stress level might decrease, making it easier to make healthier choices for your body and mind.
Practice does not guarantee perfection. There will always be poses that seem impossible to us and easy to others. There will always be poses that look and feel different in our body because of our unique skeletal structure. If a teacher tells you otherwise, walk the other way.
What practice does guarantee is knowledge, experience, and patience.
But, if we were practicing, we would already know that.