Monday, September 5, 2011

Practice Imperfectly

September is YOGA MONTH! Many people want to begin a practice. But where to begin? What I hear asked again and again is "What KIND of yoga do you teach?" or "What TYPE of yoga should I do?". Talking about yoga will not allow the true discovery. The experience will, so stop asking, and start acting! We all have places in our live and our practice where we hesitate because we feel like we have to wait until we can execute with perfection. You don't have to wait! In fact, it's essential to our growth to feel challenged, uncomfortable and like a beginner. On the one hand, this can be awkward for someone like me, being an instructor! When the opportunity arose to become an teacher, I didn't feel 'ready'. The expectations that I placed upon myself to be perfect were right there on the surface. However, what I have come to realize is that a teacher is simply a student who has taken the responsibility of being a guide. So what if I am imperfect!? That's why feedback from the students and the teacher-student relationship is so vital. We are all finding our way together.For the long-time yoga practitioners, perhaps it's time to mix it up and become a beginner again. Have you gotten stuck in a rut of doing the same classes again and again? Come along... You don't have to wait until you are 5 lbs. lighter, have more money, or are in the perfect relationship to start enjoying what you have. You can start exactly where you are.

When I was a child first finding yoga and discovering my body, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect. I felt that in order to be happy, I had to keep striving for a level of perfection that would fulfill that feeling. The catch was that once I felt that I had achieved a level of perfection, I felt the burden of maintaining it, and could not be satisfied. After incurring some injuries, I had to shift my perspective. Rather than reaching a specific goal, I tried to adopt an attitude of finding the perfection in what already existed. There is a way to find what is perfect in each pose, each moment... not just the result. I have even had to modify my practice, be less rigid in my form and be open to new ideas of perfection. It is my imperfections that allow my vulnerability and accessibility. Perfectly imperfect!

For a fresh perspective, explore a yoga that you have never done before. Since it will be new, you will have an opportunity to PRACTICE IMPERFECTLY! Here are some choices: KUNDALINI, (lots of breath work, and moving energy along the spine.) HATHA, (most yoga postures are based on Hatha, the yoga of force. This means exerting effort), IYENGAR (expect props, talk of proper alignment and lines of energy - this is the first yoga I ever tried), BIKRAM (this is the hot yoga, a series of 26 postures done 2 times in a row, very little upper body work, for those with wrist and neck issues), VINYASA (flow yoga with Sun Salutes, fairly active, stringing sequences of posture with the salutes which connects movement with breath), ANUSARA (lots of heart opening and backbends - this is a yoga I have never tried), YIN YOGA (much more stretchy and slow).

Each day, before you tackle a new type of yoga, or as you are exploring yoga for the first time in your life, try this exercise: list 3 things that you can see as perfect already. In your practice (and we all know what practice makes....), see if you can remind yourself that everything is already exactly as it should be. 


  1. thanks for making me feel normal and talking through this post as if you were talking to a friend. i'm not sure why it always makes someone feel better when someone else admits they're not perfect...but it does. it's like it gives us permission to not be perfect as well. thanks for that. for admitting you don't know it all and haven't done it all. sometimes from a distance (or even up close) we spend too much time comparing and become too overwhelmed to actually do anything. "stop asking, start doing!" i love that!!!

  2. Thank you for being so kind and openhearted to the World! People really need to be taught this way:)

  3. Great Post, This is really gud information. Thanks for taking time to share the benefits of Yoga. Keep blogging.

    Riley from Yoga Sydney