One of the things I love about yoga as a philosophy, is that there is no competition, judging, or clawing your way with force to reach higher and higher levels — at least in theory! I also love that being labelled ‘good’ at yoga is something only you as the practitioner can judge for yourself.
I recently started writing creatively for the fun of it, inventing characters and scenes, and going into a world I was creating on the spot as I typed, wondering where it was going to go, if anywhere at all. This is something I haven’t done since I was a child, which is crazy because I’m really enjoying it. I’m a massive daydreamer anyway and continuously make up stories in my head so I half thought I would enjoy it.
Perhaps I never bothered in the past because I thought I’d have to write a whole fiction book and plan out each chapter and I just wouldn’t know where to start. This exercise though, has taught me to do more things for the pure enjoyment of it, despite whether it’s written well or technically any good.
We live in a world where people often judge things on their physical appearances, and then we stop doing something if we feel we’re not good at it. We read a story and judge it on how well written it is. We see art and either praise the skill gone into it or the concept behind it. And we look at people practising yoga asanas (poses), and assume that to be good, you must be flexible.
When I teach yoga, I emphasise that there is no ‘perfect pose’. The same pose can be very different depending on who is practising it, and all versions are ‘right’, providing the alignment makes sense. I think this is such a beautiful thing.
Practising yoga is only ever about how it feels for you internally as opposed to how you look, and I think this logic can be applied to other things we do too. It takes the pressure off and allows you to just enjoy trying something new without worrying about being good or not. Certainly a good lesson for the ego.
The practise of equanimity
Yoga, like Vipassana meditation, is a practice in awareness and self acceptance. It’s about being OK with where you are right now — in this moment — without striving or forcing yourself into a more advanced variation of a pose or wishing you were elsewhere as you perform the poses mindlessly. Gone are the days of trying to force myself into the scorpion and getting carpet burns!
During my 10 day silent vipassana meditation, the concept of equanimity was introduced to me, which is all about acknowledging and accepting emotions, sensations and thoughts as they arise, without changing or judging them. And then, through the act of observing, these sensations, emotions and thoughts will change into something else naturally. For me, there’s a real magic in this, because it gives you space to reflect before you possibly take action on something, make a decision, or get more clarity. It also helps you to see how everything is always changing.
When you apply this philosophy to life, it might stop you giving up on something that you thought you weren’t very good at, and take pleasure in that thing for what it is. Maybe you’ll discover something you never knew you liked, and start enjoying things more whether you’re good at it or not.