Practice or Talent – How You Can Get Good at Anything

My boyfriend and I recently had some friends around for dinner.  As we sat around

Marc playing guitar

My boyfriend Marc playing guitar

chatting the subject of learning a new musical instrument came up.  Two of the people present are very talented musicians.  I am not one of them, unless you count my digeridoo explorations in teenage years.  At one point I did consider learning the guitar.  I even had a lesson from my boyfriend once.  What I realised was I could indeed play the guitar if I was willing to put the practice in. The truth is I wasn’t.  It’s not that I am not a committed person, in fact I have taught myself to be very dedicated.


You see I believe that you and I can do anything and become good at anything. What we need is practice. This has been a pivotal belief for me as it has allowed me to achieve all sorts of things. I recently redesigned Ashtanga Yoga Liverpool’s Website. I have always designed my own websites although I have no background in web design. I do this partly because I am a very small business and it saves money and partly because I enjoy doing it as well as the challenge and the learning. This is the first site I have built using css and html code and it has been and continues to be a big learning curve for me. I have taught myself using books and videos and a lot of trial and error and I still have a lot to learn.


Apparently it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an “expert” at anything. That’s a lot of practice and I am certainly no where near that in my web design journey.The thing is that some people have beliefs that they are not good at certain things or that they don’t know much about a particular topic.


As a yoga teacher, I am completely dedicated to learning about yoga. I feel I owe that to you, my students. Sometimes this suprises people, they think I should know enough by now. After all I have been doing yoga for 16 years. I practice it, I read about it, I write about it, I talk about it and I teach it. There is always more to learn and I feel it is my job to keep learning and experiencing so that I can pass on what I discover.


When you see others with amazing yoga practices, I think it’s easy to forget the many hours of dedicated practicing that led to that. Yoga is about so much more than just being able to do the positions, called asana. Yet with dedicated practice the body will change, things that were once impossible will become possible. I realise some people don’t have the time to put into their practice and maybe that’s because your practicing something else, like being a dedicated  Mother or becoming specialist in your chosen subject or career. These are all choices that we have made. I find it empowering to know that the reason I am not able to play the guitar is simply because I choose to do other things with my time.


So yoga is my subject, I may learn other things like web design or cooking but never with the same dedication. After all there are only so many hours in the day. I can’t possibly put that level of dedication into anything else and I am fine with that because I love yoga and I love teaching it, so it’s easy for me to find the motivation to delve deeper every day.


I have not always been as strong and as flexible as I am now. In fact I used to be clumsy and uncoordinated, yoga has transformed me physically and mentally and continues to do so. When you see someone practicing yoga and find it inspirational, it shows what years of dedicated practice can do.  What was once impossible turns into a reality with dedication and hard work.


What would you like to learn to do?  What can you now do that once seemed impossible in yoga or in life?


About Helen Aldred

Helen Aldred practices and teaches ashtanga yoga in Liverpool. She loves to share and discuss yoga, as well as health and wellbeing. Follow her on twitter and join Ashtanga yoga Liverpool's Facebook community .


  1. Unless you are born with amazing talent (s), I wasn’t, in the modern world i think it’s only possible to dedicate your time and effort in one direction. 15 years ago I certainly wouldn’t have said yoga would be mine. Helen you are right, it’s not just about asana, though in the beginning that’s what we come for, it’s taught me a lot of other things, patience, with myself & others, anatomy, mainly through doing it wrong. Sometimes it feels like being part of a secret society.

  2. There are a few things I have taught myself to do and persevered with over the years. Some that spring to mind are dressmaking, knitting, drawing, computer skills and guitar playing. These things have given me great satisfaction and I can still learn new skills in all these fields. I don’t take part in these pass times all the time, but I still find great satisfaction using the artistic side of my talents.

  3. Hi Kevin, Thanks for your comment. I think your right there can probably only be one thing that you can be totally dedicated too. Although I think we can have a few other things that we can get good at it’s not possible to apply the same level of dedication to everything and also find time to sleep! Great to hear of all the things yoga has taught you, it’s amazing how learning this one thing can be applied to all other areas of our lives. Yoga is not just about what we do on our yoga mat, that is where it begins….and we have to keep going back to our mats to feed it back into our lives.

  4. Hi Clare, Thanks for your comment. It is great to see the benefit of persevering with a skill over many years. It is interesting that the things that you chose are so easy to share with others. I am sure that may people have benefited from your craft and music over the years. I love that there is always more to learn.

  5. Compared to other styles of yoga, I think ashtangi’s are often perfectionists and make more sacrifices in the persuit of for their practice, changes in lifestyle, less going out,drinking, socialising. I know there are things I don’t do at all or as often as I used to. Though I miss some of them to some extent, I know that none of them give me what my practice does and their sacrifice is worthwhile .

Speak Your Mind