A lot of us tend to be grateful for the external things in our lives. Our partner. Our friends. Our home. Maybe our work. But how often do we pause in gratitude for ourselves? Specifically, how often do we appreciate where we are in our physical yoga practice at the moment?
I spent most of the early days of my yoga practice trying to achieve things. I wanted to nail certain poses or get through a certain Ashtanga sequence by a certain time (which is traditionally determined only at a teacher’s discretion).
Cut to 20 years later. An extensive shoulder surgery, two pregnancies, and innumerable small physical and mental setbacks later, I appear to have actually gone backward in my practice in a lot of ways, if you measure where I am at physically. I still can’t Handstand in the center of the room. And whereas I used to wrap my legs behind my head every morning with ease, I now much prefer doing less intense hip openers such as Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One-Legged Pigeon) on a mountain of props.
Despite my asana practice outwardly looking less challenging—some would even say “less advanced”—these days, I am simply grateful to be able to lift my right arm, let alone have the time and space to do an entire yoga practice.
This approach has made my experience of yoga so much richer. Rather than spending the whole practice trying to accomplish one thing or get anywhere, I spend the precious time I have on the mat enjoying where I am in that moment. Perhaps this is the true advanced practice.