The Role of Striving in Yoga

The role of striving in yoga is a topic I believe is often overlooked.  Particularly, in our western culture where striving is ingrained in us as young children, yoga practitioners will look at asana with an end goal in mind.  I regularly hear people say, “maybe someday I will be able to do Triangle right” or “I wish I was as good at yoga as her”.  It is hard as a teacher to know how to explain that there is no such thing as a finish line in yoga and that a yoga practitioner’s level of expertise can not be measured by the shape of their asana posture.  Ganga White has an eloquent paragraph on just this topic in his book Yoga Beyond Belief.

“Postures and practice should be adjusted to the needs and levels of each practitioner, not the other way around. Yet more often than not, students approach limitations in reverse and force themselves into postures. It is said that there are 840,000 asanas. In one way this mythic figure is a metaphor for a flexible approach to finding the appropriate poses for particular purposes, as it suggests there is a variation or adjustment of every pose for any body. Goals have their place. They give us energy and move us forward. They give purpose and direction and motivate us to achieve.  However, focusing excessively on goals can cause aggressive practice that takes us out of the moment and out of attunement to the journey.  Softening our goal orientation can help overcome aggressiveness and effort in yoga practice so we are more able to enjoy the journey.  Goals are the finish line of a race, while yoga is an ongoing process throughout life.  We need goals, and we need to keep them in their place.”

Yoga Beyond Belief (Ganga White) p#45

Published in: on October 21, 2011 at 7:52 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. Ok, so one of the new goals at the top of my list is to get back in the moment and attuned to my journey; to let go, breathe and just be. I am seriously needing to learn to do that and I will.
    And then I need to quit making lists…. Namaste Angela -^-,

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