In pretty much every class I teach is that there will be at least one person that berates themselves for their difficulty in approaching a pose. For example, a student of mine may be working towards Dancer pose, which is a balancing pose as well as a backbend. At the first sign of wobbling, or of falling out, the response is often “I can’t balance!” or maybe, “I’m just so weak” or “I have no strength!”.
What’s behind this unhelpful dialogue? In what universe is anyone expected to be able to do something perfectly every time, or even the first time?
I imagine the underlying thinking must be some variety of the following:
I can’t do this
I look dumb trying to do this
Everyone else can do this except for me
People must think I am really weak
I will never be able to do this
But, here’s the thing. The person who is doing it right now while you aren’t either really worked hard to get there, or has some genetic privilege in their favor. A perfectly executed yoga pose may take hours, or maybe even hundreds of hours to refine. And, here’s a secret you may not know. Yoga giveth, and yoga taketh away. You can practice a pose for a long time, and one day, it may not feel good in your body. Or you may have lost access to it due to illness or injury, or mysterious forces. And, that’s the practice. Yoga (despite what all those glossy magazine covers may indicate) is a practice of non-attachment, of being present with what is vs. what we want it to be. It may come back, it may not, and there are still other things to explore. Yoga isn’t just about one pose, or about perfection. Suffice to say, among many other benefits, yoga makes us more comfortable with our imperfections.
First things first though. Start speaking in the present tense. If you can’t restrain yourself from absolutes, at least put a time frame on them. Say, “I can’t balance today”. “Today, I feel weak”. Today may not be your best day, but you don’t know what tomorrow holds yet.