What yoga is teaching me about imperfection

In so much of my life I strive for perfection. Writing the perfect advice, making the perfect submissions, giving the perfect support to friends, taking the perfect photo, getting the perfect winged eyeliner. It extends to my yoga practice – making sure the house is quiet and serene, doing the most advanced tree I can manage, planning the perfect 60 minute practice. I’ve talked before about the magical feeling of yoga and how a lot of the time I expect it to wash over me when I get on my mat. It still happens from time to time, and I get frustrated when, after a practice, I don’t feel a sense of zen in my mind or connection with my body.

As I took some more yoga pictures this weekend, I was conscious of getting the ‘perfect’ shot. I focussed on three poses and took about twenty pictures of each. That’s not to say that I didn’t mange to be ‘in the moment’ for those poses, but even when I knew I had a useable shot, I went back and took another series just in case I could get one that was ‘more perfect’.

I posted on Instagram what I thought was my ‘perfect picture’ of the day, and I still am pretty pleased with it. I loved that it captured the moment of joy I experienced as I leaned back into my first ever hands-off-hips ustrasana and felt like I was truly ‘in’ the pose. To me, that moment of being ‘in’ the pose was the perfect expression of yoga.

But as I reviewed the photos what struck me was how much I loved some of the ‘imperfect’ ones. Like this series of me getting into eagle pose. They don’t capture the moment of being ‘in’ the pose. They do capture the concentration I experience as I contort my body in a complex series of ways to get there. And as I reflected on this, I realised that what I captured in these pictures is also the perfect expression of yoga.

Because yoga is a practice. Yoga is not just the moment when you are in the pose. It is every moment you are consciously concentrating on your lived experience – on and off the mat. Yoga is the moments of imperfection which teach you more about the perfection that is you, as you are, right this moment.

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