Practicing Yoga to Enjoy a Perfect You

Practicing yoga has more benefits than you may think. Learn how yoga can improve self-esteem in this article.

Medically reviewed in July 2021

Photo Credit: Leo Prieto, via Flickr Creative Commons

Imagine if you started your yoga practice with the idea that you don’t need fixing; that you are whole and perfect just as you are. All the energy spent “trying to be better” would disappear and you would be free to explore and enjoy yourself without trying to change things.

Once you feel like you aren’t broken and don’t need fixing, you can bring back the enjoyment and the curiosity that lends itself to self-exploration. You can be curious about yourself in your practice and observe what is arising for you in the moment. You stop trying to do a pose the “right way” and find “your” way.

We Are Enough
Trying to make a pose perfect implies that you have to try harder and be more. The trying harder actually creates more stress and it may have more of a negative effect on your health by taking you out of the moment to try to be in some ideal you have of the pose.

Trying to make a pose look like someone else’s, or like a picture of a pose you have seen somewhere, can lead to a violation of your own experience. A pose will look very different to an outsider viewing several people doing the same pose. For example, the person next to you may be practicing the cobra pose sitting in a chair, while the one behind you is practicing it on the floor. One may have their legs apart; another, their legs together, and yet another may be lifting their head a couple of inches. All the same pose, but different expressions.

The truth is you can inadvertently do more harm than good when you try to adhere to an idea of a pose you think is good for you. The spine is meant to have curves and your weight distribution and nervous system depends on that. If you impose some idea that you think you should be doing to create a form that you think is “right,” it may not have a positive effect in the end. You need to find a sitting pose that is efficient, dynamic and relaxed, and that works for you.

Being vs Doing
The idea that you have to look a certain way in your postures can color your entire experience of yoga and create all sorts of obstacles to your enjoyment of a movement practice.

Imagine if your yoga was a practice of “being in your body” rather than doing something to your body. Imagine if your practice of yoga was only about feeling the vibrant pulsing of sensation and inter connectedness of your own being. Perhaps then you would be able to really enjoy the perfection that is you.

Looking for other ways to live a healthier, happier life? Reverse heart disease and diabetes, lose weight and reduce stress with these tips from Dean Ornish.

This content was originally published on Ornish Living.

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