Are You Too Rigid About Your Yoga Practice?

| by Everything Yoga

In her book, The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America, author Stefanie Syman claims that people tend to project their own stuff onto yoga: "Yoga is like a Rorschach test: Students and teachers see in it the content of their own mind, their fantasies, and desires."

Hmmmm...interesting, indeed. Can't the same be said for life? After all, we're all looking at life, circumstances, people through our own filter (which is made up of our memories, experiences, education, beliefs, influences). Why wouldn't the same be said for yoga? I find it ironic because one of the reasons I practice yoga is to dilute the filter so that I can see the truth of things rather than the truth as I see it.

Sometimes I like to joke that I am a "recovering yogi." I certainly spent some years buying into my own beliefs and perceptions about yoga. I cared more about my form in asana rather than my experience in asana. I believed that listening to a yoga teacher was better than listening to my body. I tricked myself into thinking that my practice wasn't ego-driven even though I cared about which poses I could execute (and how perfectly).

After realizing that my yoga practice was a mirror for my life, I started to see that I wasn't quite practicing yoga -- I was merely practicing what I thought was yoga. Even now, I like to take a few steps back from yoga every few months to see how I'm approaching my practice. If I notice that I'm pushing too hard or focusing on form rather than function, I back off the asana and spend more time in meditation.

What are you projecting onto your yoga? Do you think a yoga teacher needs to look a certain way (how would you feel if he/she taught a pose that he/she couldn't do him/herself?)? Do you think that you have to behave, eat, or physically be a certain way if you practice yoga? Are you taking a practice and turning it into a prison?

Something to consider...