If you’re like me, you scour the Internet on a daily basis looking for inspiration—”inspiration” being little more than a code word for any article that advises me on how to live my life better. I read articles and watch videos about how to perfect my Pincha Mayurasana, manage my money better, climb the career ladder, chop onions, keep my baseboards clean, sneak more greens into my diet, and most recently how to wear maternity dresses without looking like I’ve pitched a tent.
It might be inspirational to imagine doing all these things, but it’s also unrealistic. Nobody is good at everything. Maybe constantly searching for ways to be good at everything isn’t a healthy habit. I’ve noticed that it can make me feel inadequate—I mean, what does it say about me that I need to look up a video on YouTube to chop an onion? And I start to question my ability to do things on my own—my own way. And while yoga helps me to trust my own intuition, I’ve also noticed that it gives me one more thing that I feel the need to improve upon in my life.
It’s exhausting. And, for me, it defeats the whole purpose of the practice.
So, today, I want to focus on the things that I—we—all naturally do well—in yoga practice. These are the things that no one does better than us, and where we are the experts every time.
1. Practicing your version of the pose. Yoga should be an individual practice, which is something that’s easy to forget when you’re in a class full of students all following the cues of one teacher. But there’s something pretty transformative when you do a pose the way your intuition tells you to in the moment. No one else’s pose is going to make you feel more happy, thankful, present, and alive than your own.
2. Applying lessons to your own life. Have you ever left a 90-minute yoga class and realized that the only thing you remember was a story the teacher told at the beginning of class or one cue about how to open your heart more fully? We tend to only take in the lessons we need at the moment; often, that’s all we can absorb. But when we hear it, we know that’s what we were meant to hear, and then it’s up to us to apply that lesson to our own lives.
3. Feeling sensation. No one else can feel or describe what’s happening in your body. You are the only expert on that subject. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.
4. Exploring the emotions connected to certain body parts, muscle groups, or poses. You’re also the only one who can know the emotions that arise when you move your body in specific ways. It’s a delicious intimacy that you share with yourself. So, what is your body telling you?
5. Taking care of yourself. Maybe we’re not always as good at this one as we could be; sometimes we need a little reminder to be a more gentle and understanding of ourselves. But this is one thing that we can all be great at if we make a comittment to put our health and well-being first. Yoga teaches us how to do this. It’s up to us to heed the advice.