Yoga postures are beautiful.  There is no doubt you’ve been inspired, intrigued, and impressed by pictures of people in pretzels, twists, and handstands. Our newsfeeds are pumped with beautifully instagrammed asanas with the perfect filter at sunset and some astounding quote attached about how we should never give up.  We begin to glamorize these photos into our idea of yoga, and strive for our practice to look just like them.  We get to the mat and suddenly that serene selfie isn’t quite as effortless as we imagined.  We’re sweating, shaking, forgetting to breathe, and our expression is far from peaceful.  Not fulfilling our expectations, we become upset and lose all those happy vibes we worked up.  I watch people get frustrated, judgmental and angry because they can’t get into a posture perfectly, or progress through a series as fast as they would like to.   Postures are great for the body, and it’s wonderful to have goals, but if asana obsession is making you upset you’re denying yourself the benefits of yoga.

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people say:
“I suck at yoga.”
“I’ll never get to that pose”
“Man, I used to be able to do that”
“I’m not flexible enough.”
“I’m not strong enough.”

This is your ego talking, and your ego does NOT belong on your mat.

Your body has been patient with you. You pump it with toxins; it cleans out the mess.  You overwork it; it keeps performing.  You injure it; it heals you.  It does everything you ask, until finally you’re on your mat willing your hips up into wheel and they just wont budge.  It’s time to be patient with your body.

Yoga is a constant journey.  Every time you step onto your mat your practice is unique.  Allow your practice to be a new conversation with your body every time. Give it the opportunity to speak to you and be willing and open enough to listen.  As you grow in your practice you will grow spiritually.  As you grow spiritually you will further your practice.  When you find yourself getting frustrated it’s time to work on that ego.

Try taking a motherly approach to that beautiful, perfect, body of yours.  Imagine teaching a child to paint. You wouldn’t be angry if they couldn’t paint the Sistine Chapel from the get-go.  In fact, they may never paint the Sistine Chapel!  That’s okay! Instead of getting frustrated and having unfair expectations, you would give them love, patience, gratitude and encouragement no matter how abstract their painting skills were.

In the same way, love your body.  Honor it’s needs, and encourage it patiently without  expectations.   Enjoy the strength, flexibility and capabilities you DO have. Embrace the challenge and thrill of progress as you find the edge of your abilities expanding further as you practice.  Some days you will be able do more, some days you’ll do less; and that’s okay.  As they say, yoga isn’t about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down.

By no means am I advising anyone to stop posting those beautiful yoga pictures.  I love those!  They’re inspiring!  But please don’t confuse a pretty picture with yoga.  That’s just one fraction of a moment of one unique practice that will never be replicated again.  So be inspired—to have inspiring moments of your own. Whether you are in dancer, or child’s pose, your experience can be as beautiful as you want it to be.

By Brynne Heatley

Behind every yoga picture…There are 10x as many bloopers.