Intricate yoga poses are fun, require focus, and cultivate great flexibility and strength; however, they do little to improve the quality of our lives. They cannot stave off illness or hardship, and the intrinsic value of, say, hanumanasana (shown above) is no greater than that of sivasana (below).
So, why bother?
Challenging yoga poses are useful because they allow yogis to practice being in challenging life moments (however small and controlled, as they are on a yoga mat) with courage and compassion. Unfortunately, it’s easy to be seduced into thinking that the flashy pose is the goal. Don’t be fooled, friends!
All yoga poses serve the same greater purpose: to prepare the body for meditation and thus, samadhi, the superconscious state and eighth and final “limb” of the yogic path. Instead of feeling defeated because we can’t touch our toes or balance on our hands (check out my near faceplant below), we should see these “experiments” as blessings.
Rather than curse tight hamstrings, what if we viewed them as a fond nod to our active lifestyles, spent running, cycling, and simply living in motion? What if faulty balance became a luxurious opportunity to recommit to quieting the mind? And, gravity defying arm balances helped us to look fear and physics in the face and say, “Yes, I see you, but I am going to try anyway.”
Which asanas challenge you? Why are they difficult (or scary, or frustrating)? And, how can this challenge help you elsewhere in life?