I was having coffee with my friend this morning and we got to talking about yoga. You know, how you might mention a faulty brake problem to your mechanic buddy. Or talk about a great recipe you found with a fellow foodie. Well, Jen and I were chatting about asana. Technique. Ego. (Non)attachment. She’s been taking a yoga class with some pretty advanced practitioners. And she made a comment about the girl next to her going into this crazy beautiful Natarajasana (King Dancer) variation that was awe-inspiring. She wanted to be that yogi, with that leg clasped behind her head, the deep crescent curvature of her spine, Oh Bliss! Could I help her to get there, she wanted to know.
That is the question for many of us, isn’t it? Jen is a yogini. She knows the adage of start where you are, beginner’s mind, and so on. But none of us can escape the inspired image of grace, strength and fluidity we want our own bodies to express. Here is the thing about yoga sometimes, and I’m sure it applies to many things in life: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and likewise, the “holder” of the postures. Your supreme and perfect pose, the one that is designed for your body, might not be the one of the person next to you. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to achieve that magazine cover yoga pose. As long as we know it will take dedication of practice, as well as compassion, non violence and the understanding of our own bodies to achieve it, go for it. We will surely learn many lessons along the way.
Jen has some pretty severe spinal considerations, including (and not limited to) deteriorating and herniated discs. While perhaps one day with loving patience with herself she could find herself in that advanced Natarajasana, either way it is likely that on her way to discovery she will find many postures of artful grace that her body creates through asana that fill her to completeness and satisfaction. And as our body finds those curves and crescents through strength, flexibility and new openings, it is more important that our mind follows suit, and even more so, that that openness finds its way to our hearts.