Is there a perfect yoga pose? Facebook or Instagram will show you millions (if not billions) of photos of people contorting their bodies into the perfect pose. Although these poses may look both beautiful and alluring, many are completely unsustainable. It may be best to just let the Siren’s sing their song and move on. But if the perfect pose can’t be found online or in a picture, where do you look?
Well, if you are looking for a sustainable and enjoyable practice, the search for the perfect pose is not something you’ll find outside yourself. Looking at pictures and trying to force your body into those shapes is an extrinsic motivation that sets you up for failure and possible injury. You may instead allow your motivation to move from your intrinsic desire to simply enjoy your practice and the capabilities of your body. When you tune into this internal state of being, it will allow you to feel your way into your perfect pose (hint: it won’t look like anyone else’s). This is not something that you are looking for in some faraway time or place. It’s available in your body all the time.
Let’s see if we can clarify this a bit. Think about a song you really like. When you listen to that song, I would hope that your intention would not be to just finish it. That would be ridiculous, yeah? You would listen to the same 2 seconds of the song over and over and over again. As obvious and ridiculous as that sounds in relation to music, we have a hard time when we apply that same principle to something like our yoga practice.
We think… alright, I just need to get through this pose, or this class… and then, I got it!
Much like a song, however, the goal of your practice is not to look for the end; some perfect external pose, or completion of the class. The “goal” is to be in a constant state of exploration and receptivity. Your yoga becomes an internal practice of listening and moving from intention, rather than an external practice of imposing goals. Yoga, when done according to this principle, becomes process-driven, rather than goal-driven.
It becomes a beautiful interplay between soft, easy movement, followed by deep, sensitive listening. You are constantly easing in and easing out of the pose. Instead of being caught in the achievement state of mind, you can take a step back, relax, and enjoy your movement. Instead of thinking you have to do more in order to get the benefits, you know you gain infinitely more by simply paying attention to everything your body is saying. Now listen, I get. Our world is structured in such a way that we approach our lives with an achievement mentality approximately 100% of the time, ha! We do it all day long. It can be almost impossible at first to even understand what I’m saying. So let’s get back to our music analogy.
What is the point of listening to that song you love? You listen simply because you enjoy it. You may enjoy some parts more than others, but overall you listen for the fun of it. You let the music take you. What if you did this in your yoga practice too? What if the point was not to get the pose, but to simply be aware as you explore it? What if you let the pose take you? What if your practice became a process of simply being engrossed in your experience? Although it sounds simple in theory, it may be a bit more difficult in practice. It will, however, completely transform both your practice and your results.
You may begin to enjoy the movement for movement’s sake. You may leave feeling refreshed and energized. You may even have a sense of appreciation for what your body can do, rather than what you can’t do. And you want to know the craziest thing? You will improve. Why? Because you are enjoying yourself. You are in a state of flow. This will motivate you to go back again. More than that, you are exploring the capabilities of your body. This means you are trying things out that might not work. These mistakes, however, may inform you of some minor body mechanics or adjustments that you were not aware of. Suddenly, a pose that made no sense, clicks into place… all from doing it WRONG!
This may cause you to relish your mistakes as much as your successes. You begin to see them for what they are; opportunities for growth and learning. Now, of course, you can hurt yourself by doing something that works against your body and how it functions. If you are moving in a slow, deliberate, and curious state, however, this is much less likely to happen. You will hear your body’s warning signs clearly and you will be able to back off and adjust what you are doing in order to proceed in a more appropriate way. Basically, all I’m trying to say is take the pressure off. Enjoy your practice and be curious. Resist the urge to think there is something to do or that you are doing it wrong. If you are moving and breathing you are doing it right. Don’t just take my word for it. Try it and see what happens.
So is there a perfect pose?
Of course, there is. It’s just not that objective pose you may have thought it was it first. You won’t find it in a picture on the internet or in a book. The perfect pose is subjective and it lives inside you. It will be different every day. Can you tune in, listen, and move with your body?