Lessons in yoga: Progress is not always linear

I came to the mat Wednesday morning with a clear mind. Whatever comes in class, I will just show up the best that I can. This was particularly important for me to remember after Monday’s class where I struggled to get into poses and felt shaky in my balance.

These are the lessons of yoga. And it is one of the reasons why I’ve returned to a regular practice.

Want the “training” selling points? There are plenty. Increased flexibility is one of them. So is strength. If you think yoga is just chanting “om” and resting in “corpse pose” you have never done a sequence which takes you through chaturanga so many times you are fairly certain your arms will collapse. Or held boat pose so long your entire core was on fire.

But what I’ve come to love most about yoga is what it’s teaching me about failure. Some of the best yoga teachers have reminded me that not only does flexibility and balance vary between people (read: do not judge yourself based on what someone else can do in class) but it can vary within you from one day to the next. Progress is not linear. There are ups and downs. Ebbs and flows. There are rhythms to our bodies, and to our lives, and the more we try to force the issue, the more we try to direct the flow, the greater the certainty is that we will come crashing down out of Warrior III.

The key is to keep coming back. It’s not about banishing failure or bad days. It’s not always about plowing through. It’s about understanding, and even embracing, that some days you will be able to grab your big toe and other days you may barely reach your ankles. And that not only is that non-linear-ness OK; it’s necessary. Go ahead and fall. Because you never know what you might see from your new vantage point.



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