When I took the fabulously insightful Yoga for All training with Dianne Bondy and Amber Karnes, there was this great concept of genetic privilege that just blew my socks off. In the first module, they talk about how some people have a natural ease with certain postures, and some don’t. Dianne framed it as “genetic privilege”, which I just found so interesting, particularly when she said that everyone has it. When I framed it in terms of myself, it had an interesting effect on me. One, it helped me to focus on the positive, the idea that some things really do just come naturally to me. Two, it helped me to understand that I can’t have a natural affinity for everything. Some things are easy, some are hard. Three, it helped me to feel a little less self-congratulatory on things that do come easily to me. I got lucky. Nothing to get to puffed up about there. For some reason, I find this very freeing.
For me, I am pretty good at opening my side body. I enjoy it, I have a nice, long torso that makes it come a little more easily. However, I can’t really clasp my arms up behind my back and lift them. Namaste in the back? Ha! Dream on! But, by being able to be at ease with the idea that some things I do come easily, it makes me more able to accept that some really don’t. No longer do I berate my poor, tight shoulder carriage, because heck! I can do triangle! The silver lining makes the grey part a little brighter.
So, next time you are on the mat, notice your strengths and weaknesses without getting too attached. Walk that line of equanimity, thinking in a factual way, without all the emotional baggage and pay attention to what feels good, what feels instinctive. Be okay with practices that aren’t so simple to you. You can learn from both, if you don’t get caught up in a miserable cycle of accomplishment and failure. Recognizing privilege doesn’t eliminate the ability to strive and improve, but it may shift your perspective.