Yoga for Perfectionists


As yogis, we all struggle to keep our practice consistent. We get distracted by life and make excuses to skip one day, then the next, and pretty soon we find ourselves making a lasting indent into the couch--we are too defeated for that one down-ward dog that could turn it all around.

It seems like perfectionists catch the worst of this cycle. We like to feel like we are "being good," "making progress," and "on track." Self-proclaimed perfectionist and yogi blogger Daniela Velázquez at says "Yoga helps me cope with much of that fretting - until I stop
practicing. Then all of the anxiety creeps back and makes me want to
crawl in bed instead of working it out on my mat."

And she's not the only one who struggles with this all-or-nothing
mantra in her yoga practice and exercise routine.

"'It makes it hard for people to stay motivated - they have to be
perfect in their diet plan and/or exercise plan,' behavioral
psychologist Dean Anderson says. 'When they inevitably aren't, they
start getting down on themselves. They figure they're never going to do
it,' says Anderson, who writes for the weight-loss website under
the pen name Coach Dean.

says "Lately, I have learned to let the problem remain what it is and
nothing more. Eating a cookie or skipping class is simply that - not an
excuse to send myself over the edge.

That's what I have always loved about yoga. Sure, I geek out when I
do something I couldn't before, like my first on-the-wall handstand a
few weeks ago. But the emphasis for me has always been on the journey of
the practice and the progress I have made to become a happier, more
whole person.

Once you're able to do something new (like a handstand), there's
always a slightly more complicated pose to work on (a one-handed
handstand). And with more than 1,000 poses in yoga's repertoire, you
won't ever be able to master them all. And that's OK. Because each time
you practice, you gain a little more wisdom about yourself and the

It's about the process of changing, not about each individual
event. Perfectionists focus on the outcome, and if they don't
get a perfect outcome their motivation collapses.

Next time, start with reminding yourself that you are inherently full or whole--lacking in no way. Then press on to practice with willful intention and non-concern for results and see if it feels different.

Erin Chalfant is a
writer, yoga teacher and the Web Editor at Yoga Journal.