There are many adjectives that are associated with the word ‘yogi’, such as ‘calm’, ‘tranquil’ ‘peaceful’ etc.
But what if you aren’t any of these things?
What if you have a short temper, you bounce of the walls of every building you enter and are generally quite on edge with life? Does this make you any less of a yogi? How about if you can’t get your leg behind your head?
Here are five mistakes or traps that any yogi can fall into…
1. Self deprecation
What if you’ve been practicing your downward dog for several years now and your heels still don’t touch the floor…surely they should take that yogi title away from you, right?
It is easy to beat ourselves up about this “mould” we feel that we should fit into.
Try to remember that a yogi comes in many shapes, sizes, forms and a million different ways of being. There is no mould for a yogi, because a yoga practice or indeed, a yoga lifestyle, are individual. No two practices or lifestyles can be the same, and the only person you do it for is yourself…so do it your way.
2. Getting a little over excited
We’ve all had those times where we attempt a pose thinking ‘I can totally do that’, and we fly into it, thinking it will be the easiest thing in the world, and we will look and feel amazing once we’ve achieved it. And then, unfortunately, we don’t succeed on our first attempt, we end up falling, wobbling and injuring ourselves.
We may have tried something new, but we inevitably have set ourselves backwards on a path we were doing so well on.
The key is patience.
The yogic journey is a slow one. And don’t expect to reach your destination any time soon, because (I hate to break it to you), well…there is no destination. Yoga is a process, which we undertake progressively, slowly and it becomes a practice which develops and yes, improves, but there is no end.
Practice acceptance through your breathing within your practice in order to hold back on those times when we might get a little over-excited and push ourselves too far.
Only challenge yourself when your body and mind both feel ready.
3. Comparisons with others
Again, we’ve all had a time when we look at the person next to us on their mat with their super-flexible spine, or their intense core strength and inwardly sighed a disappointed sigh.
We compare ourselves to others in every aspect of our lives, and yoga is here to help us move away from that. It is difficult, when there are people surrounding you, and they can do things you can’t. But remember that yoga is a personal practice, it doesn’t really matter if that girl can drop back into a beautiful backbend, because that’s her practice, not yours.
Try to focus on yourself, if that’s difficult, use your breath as a tool for this.
There is nothing more permanent, consistent and grounding as your own breath. If your gaze does start to wander, and you do start to focus on other people, try to appreciate the beauty in their practice, admire them, and acknowledge the hard work they have put in to achieve such a practice.
Take note, and apply their enthusiasm to your own practice.
And here we have the opposite problem.
When you finally come to master a pose, it is easy to become complacent. We all have those poses that we sometimes skip during our self-practice because we can already ‘do them.’ They seem too easy, and like they don’t need any work.
Remember, every yoga pose is benefiting you in some way, and assuming you have ‘mastered’ this pose, will only lead to a lack of alignment, flexibility or strength in this pose. You can always take a pose deeper, or you can bring a newness to the pose, by focusing on the breath, holding it for longer, finding new ways to open up the muscles.
Apply this complacency rule to everyday life.
If there are things you take for granted, things you ‘can do’ so don’t bother to apply them to life anymore, take them up again.
See how it feel to go over old stuff, and bring about a newness.
5. Resisting Life
In yoga, things go wrong.
We might fall, we might wobble, we might even injure ourselves. We might be restless in savasana, feel so far from relaxed, but we get up and try again.
The same applies to life.
Bad things happen, that’s life. It is easy to resist the acceptance of this by burying our heads in the sand, pretending it doesn’t happen. By practicing the same poses everyday, never trying anything new, we are resisting opening ourselves up to yoga in a whole new way.
There is so much to yoga which we haven’t experienced yet, so much more to feel, to achieve. For every mistake, every fall, every bad practice, there are a million good ones waiting to happen. For every bad day there are a million good ones waiting to happen.
So pick yourself up, and try again, because there is so much more to try.