‘Progress’, I find the word thrown around quite a lot in the fitness and yoga world. Slimmer bodies, bigger biceps and toes to head in scorpion pose etc. If you engage at all in social media, you know. I think it’s great we have so many people sharing their ‘progress’ and more power to anyone who is on the path of self development. However progress comes in many forms and is not always a linear process or measurable.
Particularly in the yoga world, depth of asana is seen as progress or finally balancing on your hands can be seen as the end goal or as in my before and after pictures standing splits is the end goal. This was my attitude for a long time projecting towards a picture and end goal until injury really inconveniently got in the way. The good thing about pain is that it forces you to be present and really pay attention to what is happening internally rather than externally.
As my photos show, my practice of asana is now completely different. Rather than jamming my way into poses and then breathing, I now breathe my way into asana and use the asana as an exploration of breath in the pose. As soon as breath becomes restricted, I am backing off or I am taking a break which is a lot kinder than my old attitude of I’ll sit down when I faint! I’m not saying either approach is right or wrong or that I have mastered any pose but I do now find myself in a much more harmonious place with my practice with the second approach.
I have learned to be kinder to myself, I have learned not to get so pissed off at others and I have learned to accept myself and others as they are in the moment. I may be a little cuddlier than I used to be and my asana may not be as deep on the surface but man I am the happiest I have ever been and I understand how to look after my body more than ever and I hope to inspire and help others do the same.
This is what progress is to me now, knowing where to be in a pose. A student becoming consistent with yoga practice is progress even if you never hold an arm balance. Being kinder to yourself and to strangers is progress. Being more conscience about the food you eat and thinking of the journey of your meal to your plate is progress. Asana is one part of the practice and for many like myself is the way in but what you do with your practice off the mat is also deepening your practice. This does not mean we are never pissed off or that nothing will ever steal your peace again but perhaps on the journey, we learn more about ourselves and can use the experience to become better at being human….Please share your progress x