What is Your “Why” for Yoga?

In yoga, we sometimes forget why we come to class.  We get so caught up in trying not to look stupid, or struggling to make our poses look as perfect as the girl/guy next to us, or pushing ourselves into a headstand when we haven’t developed the core strength to do it safely.

For most of us, we didn’t make our first moves toward yoga so that we could compare ourselves to others.

So what brought us to class in the first place?

What is it that you want to get out of spending all this time on your mat, slogging through sweaty poses, stretching to the limits of your physical body?  Sitting with all the unpleasant thoughts of your mind that you can’t escape from because your teacher asks you to sit in a “comfortable” seated position?

Was it the desire to look like the people in Instagram photos who have flawless handstands?

Or was it an attempt to manage stress in a healthier way?  A way to aid the recovery of a nagging knee injury?  A recommendation by your doctor to incorporate more physical activity into your life?  An opportunity to try a new and fun form of exercise with a friend?  A complement to your current fitness routine?

That “why” is crucial to how you feel about your practice – before, during, and after.  If you ground yourself in why you came to class in the first place, it will be much easier to stay focused on the things that matter – how you’re breathing, what your body needs (or doesn’t need), and how much you are enjoying the experience.

If we allow ourselves to forget our “why,” then we risk contaminating our experience with all the superfluous junk that keeps us from our true selves – watching what others do, focusing on another person’s practice, and – the biggest buzzkill – judging ourselves and others.

Knowing our “why” keeps us safer from being overrun by judgment.  As in our lives off the mat, judgment can destroy our confidence without conferring much benefit.  We judge ourselves enough throughout the day – so allow your yoga practice to be free of those comparisons, so that you can honor the true reasons why you began your yoga practice in the first place.