Honest Yoga

For many years, my main goal in yoga was to achieve perfection in postures. I yearned to try harder, to push myself further, to look magazine-perfect in Urdhva Dhanurasana. These days, each time I step on the mat, I strive for an honest practice that illuminates for me what should be my area of focus. This approach keeps me curious. On most days, I start with dance or Pilates, then venture into a flowing Vinyasa practice. This practice can feel at once familiar and new. Some mornings, I work on back bends, gradually opening my heart as I move toward a deeper variation of each pose, feeling more awake, alive, exhilarated as I broaden through my clavicles and lift through the scapulae. On other mornings, particularly when I’m low on energy and need to wake up gently, slowly, a lingering flow in Cat/Cow helps me to loosen up before melting into long-held Yin postures.

Some days, I fall out of inversions. I’m reminded, then, to sit in meditation for a while longer, allowing myself to feel supported by the earth while remaining present with what is before me, with the images and stories that my mind presents on the big screen of its unhinged forefront. I observe with curiosity, allowing it all to appear and then dissolve as I descend deeper, unfolding layer by layer. On other days, the path through the layers curves sharply, causing me to careen back to the starting point. The choice is always available, and neither option is advantageous nor unattractive. It’s simply there. Will my will power and curiosity win over, or will I take the simple route by letting go of effort? If I should choose the latter, will old samskaras of guilt haunt me throughout the day, reminding me that I should have tried harder? Will I succeed in silencing them?

Today, my hips thank me for a luxurious Yin session and sleeping swan pose practiced with full acquiescence, with permission to luxuriate, to let go of control, to feel pleasure and pain melt away into nothing until my body becomes a heavy vessel for my breath. Whatever the day might bring, I will show up on my mat with the same honest sense of curiosity, ready to move, ready to pause, balancing effort with softness, setting the tone for whatever the day might bring. Staying true to this commitment is easy when honesty feels safe.

What is your interpretation of an honest yoga practice? Please leave a comment below. 

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