I have been practicing yoga for over 15 years now and yet sometimes I feel like a complete beginner.
When my students talk to me about my practice, they sometimes ask if there is
anything I can’t do. I answer emphatically yes. In all honesty I am surprised by the question, the topic of yoga is so vast. I have practiced the primary series now, thousands of times, my body knows it well and can get into the poses without being warmed up. Still there are always more detailed refinements to make and more challenging asana to work on. Even though I am fortunate enough to be able to dedicate my time to practice, study and teaching, there will always be more to learn.
For me that’s a relief! I love doing something impossible every day, challenging my ego and my sense of what’s possible. As those of you who study with me probably know, I love to understand how the body works anatomically, both in my body and in others. I love to delve deeper to challenge my perspective on life through my study of philosophy and the fruits of practice. I love the journey.
Ashtanga yoga has a reputation for being hard. It is but it meets you wherever you are. If you can’t do something all you can do is work where your at today. It’s great to find these boundaries, use them as tool to challenge yourself. Working on a posture that challenges you requires you to bring a whole new level of awareness to your practice. Delve deeper, this is where the lessons are. Does your ego think you should be able to do it. My ego sometimes does, the ego is a funny creature, learn to not take it so seriously, surrender to where you are right now.
As you work this way, challenging your beliefs about what you think is possible will become second nature.
Why is it important to do impossible asanas?
No it’s not so you can pull off a snazzy move on the dance floor or because you will have the body you always dreamed of, although these things may happen ;-). The real benefit of doing a pose that you thought was once impossible is that you can apply that to your life. If you can’t do something yet, work at it consistently, observe people who can, ask for advice but if you want to do it you can. It’s not impossible it just needs work. Removing the barriers from your life can be liberating to say the least.
Of course once you can do that impossible pose, they’ll be another one waiting for you. In Ashtanga yoga there are 6 series, the first series, the primary series is enough to keep most people challenged and only the naturally flexible or those who start very young will reach series 6. Do you know what, that’s a relief to me, I thrive on a challenge.
What do you find impossible right now in yoga or in life? Has yoga helped you to challenge the boundaries of what you think is possible?