Last Friday, I was lying on my mat in yoga with two blocks underneath my lower back. I was in a meditate state, feeling more open than I had in a long while. My instructor then suggested to the class that we take wheel or bridge pose if they were in our practice.
Normally, that would be the time when I take a full wheel, but I decided not to. I’ve been practicing yoga regularly for almost two years now and I have thrown out my back on multiple occasions attempting backbends and wheel-like poses. It has only been recently that I’ve decided to pull back and listen to my body. I’m not there today. And I might not be there tomorrow. And I’ve come to terms with that.
We all know those people (or at least I do) that somehow kept up with their gymnastics skills post middle school. I personally know people that can launch into a backbend at any time of the day and can do the splits without practice. I, on the other hand, stretch my splits daily. When I go more than a few days without stretching, which I have before due to injury, I’ll quickly lose it and be 6 inches off the floor again.
But yoga isn’t just about how long you can hold your wheel and whether you can put your legs behind your head.
We’re all different. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, it is best to come to terms with yourself. Yoga, unlike gymnastics, is not solely a skill-based practice. You can be great at yoga without contorting your body into poses that are unnatural for you.
I have found joy in yoga because I do not focus on what I am unable to do. I focus on what I can do today and how I can make today the best that it can be.
Toward the end of class last Friday, my instructor said, “Remember what you’re practicing. Choose the shape that fits you.”
And that’s exactly what I will continue to do; choose the shape that suits me.