I often see a clever magazine article, or a beautiful photograph, or tasty food in a café and think: “Great, but … I can do better than that!” Even when I am judging my own creations, I still think I can do better. I’m rarely satisfied with my own work. For a long time, this resulted in major procrastination in starting new things (like this blog!) or else in not finishing them. If it wasn’t perfect, I had my excuse ready: “It isn’t finished yet!”
We all strive for perfection (don’t we?), but the thing is – that’s not the point! It’s good to want to do your best, but not if it means a choice between perfection and nothing at all. There are so many reasons why perfection is not the point, and it’s an attitude that’s best to adopt at the beginning. Check out Yoga Sutra 1.1: Atha yoga anushasanam – ‘Now, the teachings of yoga.’ For me, the most important word is atha (now). Yoga calls us to live in the moment, and to focus on doing something – now! – to improve our lives. To draw a wider lesson for life, and to put it in Gran-speak: never put off until tomorrow, what you can do today. Maybe you’ll be perfect tomorrow, but why wait?
Practice, not perfect.
I can’t demo each pose to perfection but my practice makes me stronger. The practice is the important thing. I had an idea in mind for the perfect picture, and here’s the result. I know what’s wrong in this picture, more than anyone else could possibly comment, but I’m choosing to put it out there. I had so much fun practicing and playing to create this picture. Maybe I’ll have another go, but in the meantime, I have something I can be proud of. It is my practice, not my perfection.
What do you like to practice? What have you been putting off?
Here is how I go about practicing…
Take it as a given that your body is as capable as anyone else's. Work on your mind to really believe that fact and keep the faith in times of discomfort. Short of surgery or a transplant, your body will never look like or behave like anyone else's. You have your own joints, muscles, bones, strengths etc. Work with what you have.
Know your own weakness, we all have them. Don't focus on it - be aware of it. Make modifications or slow. Observe but don't berate yourself.
Understand the difference between discomfort and pain. If something is painful, come out of the posture immediately. Rest. Make an adjustment or modification that you know works for your body. If something is uncomfortable, it is probably the place that needs the most care and attention. Work at it. It will become easier.
It sounds obvious but talking or whispering is really distracting for everyone in the room.
In saying that…
I love questions and chances are if something isn't making sense to you then, there are others! We're all here to learn and questions are the best feedback a teacher can get.
Stick to your mat.
Someone beside you might look like ‘they’re doing it wrong’ but you never know what it is they are working on. There are as many postures as there are bodies. Focus on the posture fitting your own body and not the other way around.
If this is your first class ever, for a while or if it has just been a tough day - give yourself a break. It's a lot to take in in one go. Focus on one thing to begin with and let whatever is not making sense wash over you for today.
Have fun. Laugh. Fall down. Laugh again.
Phew! It's back! Check out the line up for the Ten Year Anniversary Electric Picnic 2013.
Electric Picnic 2012 was fun!
Some pictures below of solemovement teaching the 'Twist & Stretch' workshop in Body & Soul.
Thanks to everyone who signed up and got involved.
Photo credit: Linda Jean Byrne