The Heartache of “Advancing” in One’s Practice


Milestones.  Or progression.  Or advancement.  Setting, or just achieving, “goals” in the yoga – asana practice seems so un-yoga-like.  “I want to be able to do this pose” or “why can’t I do that pose” counters the teachings of the Sutras and Buddhist practice that one of the causes of suffering is “attachment” to goals.  It’s one of the first spiritual teachings that many new yoga students hear – don’t try to mimic the advanced students, it will only lead to heartache.

Lately I’ve been nailing a lot of neat, what one would consider advanced, poses, and frankly, I think it’s kind of cool.  I don’t see a problem with that.  It’s not like I was craving, or reaching for these poses.  They just kind of arrived because I’ve stepped up my effort in class – more classes, more limber, more advanced poses.  I see this as one possible natural progression on the mat.

Thing is, and I’m used to this because I’ve been practicing a while, I haven’t “nailed” these poses every class.  At my age I’m fully aware of my physical limitations, and I’m coming off a bad hip injury (right?).  And that’s okay.

So craving glory poses = yoga sin; but achieving glory poses = natural advancement. Yeah, sometimes the hardest part of yoga is between your ears.

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