In reading Developing a Personal Practice by T.K. V. Desikachar, I came across this passage:
It is not enough to jump if you want to reach the sky. Taking an intelligent approach means working toward your goal step by step. If you want to travel overseas, the first thing you need is a passport. Then you need visas for the countries you intend to visit, and so forth. The simple fact that you want to go there does not make the trip possible. All learning follows this pattern.
As a yoga teacher and as a practitioner, I want to be confident and grounded for myself and for my students. But I am often faced with feelings of inadequacy.
Personal disclosure: headstand, handstand, forearm stand, and a lot of arm balances, often feel impossible for me. Some days I need physical assistance and verbal encouragement. I need props. I need a wall. I need to fall out without grace or simply fail to arrive at all. I am constantly reminding myself to tell my ego to “shut the hell up” because quite frankly, it’s just not helpful. “I am a yoga teacher and I am not [yet] able to feel this pose in my own body, and here is this beginner who barely knows their ass from their elbow and they floated upside-down without floundering or fear. Why can’t I do that? When can I do that? I want to do that now!” Do my feelings of jealously and frustration help me extend love to others, and give a positive experience to my students? And what effects do they have on my own body and mind? These feelings of not being “good enough” are experienced universally, and each one of us has different triggers that set the negative self-talk in motion. The key is to not let these triggers deter us from pursuing our own path.
I must accept that I cannot instantaneously give up my fears and mental blocks, and discover the physics of any asana just because I want to, or because someone else can. It is definitely possible to get there, through a process and through practice, not through a light-bulb epiphany moment.
And that’s kind of what it’s all about. All of yoga, including asana, is a practice. The goal is not mastery and perfection. (Once reached, what do we do then? Show off? Quit completely to end on a high note? Or do we find there is always something new, out-of-reach, to strive for?)
Asana is not a term paper. We are not being graded, or looking for a pass-fail result. We are just looking. Exploring. Constantly trying to re-inhabit our own bodies and the present moment, and for each of us, the form that takes will look different. Each day it will look and feel different. Will that lesson not be more heartfelt to share than the mathematical stacking of my bones and joints at the front of the room?