I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘goals’ in physical yoga practice this week - inspired by a mini epiphany that I don’t really have any…
Of course there are plenty of poses I ‘can’t do’ - but to access them I’d need to pull my body into places I don’t want to take it to and I don’t have any real desire to take deeper forward folds, twists or backbends (in fact I used to go a lot ‘deeper’ into poses than I do now…these days I prefer less passive range, more active control).
My appreciation for the practice has in no way diminished as a result of this shift - I still feel very inspired and committed to it and there are lots of poses and transitions that I continue to explore.
But this exploration is undertaken more with of a sense of mindful curiosity and appreciation for the process than with an overbearing concern for whether or not I can or can’t ‘do the thing’ at the end of it.
I think this is probably the first time I’m able to say this, hand on heart, since I started practising yoga all those years ago. Honestly…it feels a little weird. And it’s a big shift from my days of ashtanga practice where ‘getting the next pose’ was a big deal.
I realise there’s a risk of sounding smug here - that I'm suggesting I’ve achieved a certain level of proficiency in asana and I’m judging those who do have goals in their physical yoga practice.
But that’s not it at all - I’m definitely not denying the value of goals or saying they shouldn’t be a feature of asana practice…there are all sorts of reasons why goals are valuable for the brain and for our mental wellbeing (as long as they’re realistically achievable).
In other movement practices I have plenty of goals - but somehow they seem to have removed themselves from my asana practice. I’m not entirely sure when that shift happened, but actually it feels pretty good.
We can certainly never underestimate the value of growth - of learning new skills, techniques and practices (on this note thanks to those of you who bought my hand balance video - I hope you’re finding it useful).
But can we allow ourselves to enjoy the process of learning, growth and exploration as an end in itself, rather than being overly focused on the end results? Because if we become overly focused on results they can morph into something akin to obsession - and the brain will respond by triggering all sorts of anxiety related responses.
That’s not something I want to invite into my yoga practice - it should be an antidote to the many other stresses we encounter in life. An opportunity to rebalance mentally and energetically and practice in ways that feel nourishing, rather than piling further pressure on ourselves.
So I'm grateful that dynamic seems to have removed itself from my asana practice (I didn’t do it consciously)...for now at least.
To practice without attachment to physical goals and find a sense of acceptance with where I’m at feels quite a blessing (and quite a novelty too)...and certainly more conducive to the explorative approach to yoga that I want to continue cultivating.