What to Do When You Can’t Get It Right (Life, Love Or That Damn Yoga Pose)

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As a “recovering” perfectionist, failure has always been difficult for me. Be it a job interview, a relationship or getting into those skinny jeans, I’ve often struggled with getting “okay” with what I can’t get right.

I began doing yoga 20 years ago. I fell in love with it immediately. After spending my teenage years enduring the Jane Fonda workout and doing hardcore aerobics that wrecked my knees, Yoga was bliss for my body.

At that time, there was only one yoga studio in the city; that small warehouse space was my haven. Aside from loving the dance and meditation of Ashtanga practice, there was something else I liked: I was good at it. I was the one in the front row who could achieve every pose with ease.

Then, life happened. I got busy and didn’t have time to get to class, so I did my asana practice at home. And by the time I returned to studio classes (at which point they had opened on just about every corner) I had acquired injuries that had affected my practice and was far less flexible. Oh, the joy of aging.

Suddenly, I was not the one in the front and center. I was closer to the back and kind of off to the side. And to boot, everyone in class seemed to be able to do that damn Sirsha-asana (headstand) pose except for me. Cause Yoga is a competition, don’tchya know?

For me, Headstands have always been difficult. I’ve tried and tried again to no avail. My attempts often resulted in neck and back pain. For a time, I considered the pain a secondary issue, imagining that if I could just get it right, then the pain would cease. I persisted in my attempts to master the headstand. Two or three times, my injuries took me out of class for weeks.

I was a bad yogi, or so I thought. I couldn’t get it “right.” To me, having a failure meant that I was a failure.

Then one day, my feelings about headstands and my approach to Yoga changed significantly.

Maybe it was the fact that I was sick and tired of injuries, or perhaps I had finally become wise enough to really hear my teacher when he asked a question in class. He suggested to always ask ourselves “why” we feel a need to do a pose. If we couldn’t answer this question we shouldn’t be doing the pose…

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