Halfway through the first day of anatomy class during my 200-hour yoga teacher training program, one of my fellow students sought confirmation on her big takeaway.
I’m paraphrasing here:
So, what you’re saying is, every body has limits. And just because other people can stretch a certain way doesn’t mean my body can stretch that way.
Every body has its limits.
Sounds so obvious, right?
Of course every body has its limits.
And, of course, if you’ve spent time in a yoga studio, or looking at yoga or fitness feeds on Instagram, then you know that as obvious as this is to us cognitively, in practice we live a different story.
We see others achieve certain things with their bodies and we try to copy exactly what we see without considering whether this is something our body can do safely.
We take this practice of comparison and attempted matching off the mat too, trying to keep pace with our peers in in our work or personal lives, without considering whether this is aligned for us.
The practice of yoga is not about how well you can get into the shapes of the asanas (poses). The poses are a tool to explore your body, not a goal to work towards.
Using the poses as a tool means you listen to your body and respect its limits, no matter what’s happening on the mat next to you, what the teacher tells you to do, or even what you were able to do yesterday.
This is the practice of yoga, on the mat and off the mat.