It is quite often the case that as I’m checking a student in to my class they’ll say something to the effect of, “I’ll be in the back row,” “I haven’t been practicing enough”, or “I’m not very good at yoga.”  Not only do I think this kind of self-deprecating talk does not promote healthy self-esteem, but it also seems to go against some yogic principles.

In my understanding, yoga asana (the physical practice of yoga) in its early days was performed for the purpose of preparing the body for meditation.  In that sense, it was, and I believe still is, a practice for anyone, or anyone who seeks cleansing, balancing and clarity.  Further, as Sharon Gannon, co-creator of the Jivamukti yoga method, put it, “You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.”  In other words, yoga is both something within each of us and a practice seeking to bring out or reveal that “something” to us.

There was a period of time when I was practicing crazy inversions and arm balances several times a week, and it felt amazing in my body and in my mind.  My body can still do most of these postures, but emotionally this does not feel like where I’m at very often in my practice these days.  I look to my personal practice as much more of a sanctuary where I can find inner stability in the midst of an often unpredictable schedule and emotionally demanding phase of life I find myself in.

Perhaps the yoga practice, like self-confidence or sexuality, does ebb and flow in relation to the tide of our emotions.  I encourage myself and others to let go of critiquing where we are in the practice, as it can vary even day-to-day.  We don’t, after all, expect the moon to be full every day of the year…

© Stephanie Stolorow