I have been practicing yoga for almost twenty years. For the first ten years of my practice, I tried too hard. (Yes. I used to be one of those people.) If my teacher told me to practice a pose that wasn’t feeling good, I tried it anyway. Most of the time, I was too proud to tell her that I needed a modification! My pride got the best of me more than I care to admit, but my hips were feeling better in spite of it, and so was my back, and so was my shoulder (and especially my knee!!!!)
Until, one day, my hip wasn’t. I had, only the year before, learned a pose that asks you to put your foot behind your head. I did it! I did it again! And again. After all, “repetition is the mother of mastery”. (I’m quoting someone here.)
I came from a background of running and weight lifting. So many of the yoga poses had been very hard for me because I was so hard, so bound, and so out of touch, mentally and spiritually. Of course, at the time, I did not know it. I was that Bible verse personified, you know, the one about not seeing the plank in your own eye.
Of course, every lesson I had to learn in yoga class was also a life lesson I needed to learn. Just as I wanted that perfect backbend, I used to want the most expensive clothes, the nicest car, the…well, you get the picture. I didn’t know that buying those things would not give me what my soul craved. I wanted what everyone else had. Why didn’t I have it? Why didn’t my father listen? I was constantly questioning and seeking. Until I began to listen. My practice prepared me for something I didn’t even know it was preparing me to do. I became a really good listener. I listened to my body after my hip began popping. I really tuned in, and I realized that putting my foot behind my head was not good for my body. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t good for your body. We are all different.
I began to listen to my soul then too. It wanted connection with other people and nature, and I became so happy. This happiness is what I want most. So, I don’t put my foot behind my head anymore, and my hip doesn’t pop. I’m not trying so hard anymore. I haven’t been trying hard for about twelve years now. I am becoming more in harmony with myself and everyone around me. I am trying just enough. I am trying only what I can try with breath and softness.