The Misconception About Yoga
Many people who “do yoga” think that the point of yoga is to get into the pose. You’ve achieved your balance in tree pose. You finally nailed handstand. You got peacock pose.
Fabulous. Good for you. A great achievement.
And that’s not yoga.
That’s contortion. Or strength training. Or mobility.
Don’t get me wrong: I love and advocate for movement in all forms.
But yoga is not about poses and athleticism.
3 Core Parts of a Yoga Practice
We can think of yoga as having 3 distinct parts or phases:
Part 1: How You Enter and Transition
Part 1 of yoga is about what you do and “how you be” as you move into a pose and between poses.
- Do you strive to achieve the pose?
- Do you push through pain and risk injury to get to the “goal”?
- Do you back off at the first signal of discomfort in fear of pain or injury?
Where do you fall on this spectrum?
Part 2: How You Handle Discomfort
Part 2 of yoga is what you do once you are in the pose — especially when things get uncomfortable.
- How do you breathe?
- Where does your mind go?
- What happens in your body?
- What do the voices in your head say?
- When you’re in an uncomfortable situation, do you look for people or circumstances to blame?
- Do you blame yourself?
- Do you play the victim?
- Do you look for people to share in your misery or give you sympathy?
Part 3: Discovering Your Patterns
Part 3 of yoga is where you explore the patterns that arise once you’re in the pose.
Within every setup is another dimension to explore, a portal to a pattern that also shows up in your life.
- How do you take up space?
- What challenges do you confront with balance?
- How do you navigate transitions?
- Do you resist support?
- Are you overly reliant on support?
The Pose is Only the Beginning
Yoga is the linking of mind and body. It is the practice of awareness of your internal state when faced with external constraints.
Yoga is not about the pose. It’s about what happens in the pose.
Yoga is the practice of awareness. Of what your body and mind do when they are in situations that may be uncomfortable.
90% of the yoga practice happens off the mat. The mat is where we explore.
Setting up the pose is only the beginning. Once you’re in it, you uncover information.
The pose is the portal for noticing.
This is the practice of yoga.