Most likely if you are reading this, you know well how vast the world of yoga is. There are practices ranging from the most gentle to the most vigorous, from the most physical to the psycho-spiritual. Truly, there is a style of yoga to suit nearly anyone who is ready to embark on the adventure. And for many practitioners, the adventure of yoga is one that lasts a lifetime. Those of us who love yoga so much, love it in part because it is such a limitless well. One could study it for a lifetime, and still only ever reveal the tip of the iceberg of all that yoga is. That could be somewhat daunting, to know that the more we learn the more there is to learn – but it is also inspiring. There is a sense that yoga is one of the rare things that we can practice for the rest of our lives, a thing that can continue to enrich and improve the quality of our lives deep into old age.
At different times in our lives our relationship with yoga will change. Some people begin their practice with classes that are slow and gentle, building up strength and knowledge of alignment before taking on a more dynamic practice. Others may begin with a dynamic practice to release pent up energy before developing the patience to be still and find deeper refinement of alignment. Some people come to yoga because they want to look better. Some come because they have a health condition that yoga can help with. Others come seeking spiritual enlightenment. Still others practice for the community. In the end, all of these reasons lead to the same goal – we all want to feel happy. We all want to feel good in our bodies. Yoga helps.
As we grow our practice will deepen and change, and that process may look very different from one person to the next. This is a part of the beauty of it all – yoga is largely an internal process, and none of us, even teachers, can really know what is happening on the inside of someone’s practice. Sometimes, the most advanced thing to do is to rest in child’s pose. For some, child’s pose is not restful, but a headstand might be! What may seem flashy from the outside may be actually therapeutic for the person practicing, and what may look easy from the outside may actually be a huge challenge for the one practicing. The bottome line is, it is for none of us to judge the practice of another – or ourselves for that matter. Oftentimes in yoga practice, “just when we’ve figured it out” – whether “it” is downward dog, or how to manage the ego – that’s when the game changes and we are called upon to adapt and learn again. Accepting this as a part of the beauty of the practice is paramount in making our practice sustainable, and helping us to evolve and unfold as human beings.
May we all be sensitive to ourselves and our ever-changing needs, and also compassionate and supportive of those we practice with. Ultimately there is no end to the depths we can plum and the heights we can soar to in our yoga practice, and we are blessed to all be on this journey together!