When people ask me why I do yoga, the answer is never a simple one word. It’s not about flexibility, which is what brings most people into a yoga studio for the first time (including me). It’s so much more than that. It’s the mental clarity and strength that I receive from practicing yoga that always keeps me coming back to my mat.
Yoga teaches you to quiet your mind, to listen to your thoughts (and not judge them), to accept your feelings as they truly are, to truly be you. And this is not something easily done in today’s society. We see images of who we “should” be all over the place – television, movies, magazines, social media. Picture perfect people in picture perfect settings. That’s not life. Life is messy and raw. Life is full of ups and downs that constantly challenge you. Life is far from picture perfect. But we feel as though it should be – and we are failing if it is not.
Yoga teaches you that you are not a failure at any time and that what and where you are in that present moment is exactly where you should be. You do not need to change a thought or feeling. You do not need to be able to touch your toes, have enough strength to perform an arm balance, or lose 10 pounds. You are exactly where you should be.
The journey to accept that fact is an ongoing process. As humans, we always strive for more. And having a goal to work towards is not a bad thing, as long as you are ok with the present moment status. You do not have to meet that goal today, tomorrow, or even this year. The goal will be met when the time is right and when you are ready.
That’s what yoga teaches me. That while I wish I were more flexible or stronger in my practice, I am exactly where I should be at this time. That it’s not only acceptable, but beautiful, that my practice and my being are not perfect.
It’s easy to forget this. It’s easy to get caught up with life and away from the mat for a while. And then the “shoulds” come back. I “should” practice more. I “should” be able to go deeper into a pose than I am. I “should” not have taken so much time off. Then I step back on the mat, and after class the “should”’s go away. It’s like magic. Every time I go to a yoga class, I learn something new. I find a new level of clarity. The learning never ends in yoga, and where ever you are in your yoga journey is always the perfect place to be!