An Exercise in Humility
Any yogis out there? I have a question for you. Three yogis walk into a studio. They all perform a standing forward fold (Uttanasana for all my Sanskrit lovers). The first yogi rests his palms flat on the mat and forehead on the front of their shins. The second yogi is almost touching their toes, inching closer and closer with each out-breath. While the third yogi breathes laboriously, struggling to get their hands past their knees. Yogi number one is thinking, “Look at those two, I’m awesome at yoga”. Yogi number three is thinking, “Look at those two, I suck at yoga”. While Yogi number two is thinking, “Inhale one two three four…exhale one two three four.” I know what you’re thinking, “Where’s the big bad wolf?” But seriously, who has the better yoga practice?
Easy answer right? Of course, it is…a trick question. The answer is neither. Every yoga practice is its expression of the practitioner. A unique entity unto itself just like you, your body, and your mind are. This is why no practice can be judged by or against another’s as better or worse. Your practice can only be better or worse than your practice. Progress is a session to session, pose to pose, moment to moment occurrence. It happens through your acceptance of each asana, application of the proper fundamental principles and mindfulness. Although your poses may appear to be less than “textbook” that does not mean that they’re less effective nor beneficial. Yogi number one with his palms on the mat is not getting any more out of his forward fold than you are. Provided you’re doing your best to apply the fundamental principles. It’s not where your hands are, it’s where your mind is. Although yogi number two does may not have the better practice he is exercising fundamental principles that will improve his practice over time. So come to your mat with acceptance. Acceptance of your practice combined with no judgment of another makes yoga not just a physical and mental exercise but an exercise in humility as well. Acceptance and humility are pillars of joy. Joy is a fruit of the spirit and thus
Yoga, Yoke, Union is achieved. Namaste.