How many of you have been fascinated by a picture of a ‘yogi’ touching his/her toes on standing backward bend? Have you ever felt inferior for yourself not being able to do the same ‘awesome’ posture? Or is your target to be bendy like somebody else?
There are so many questions to find out whether we are truly practicing yoga or just trying to contort our body. First and foremost thing we have to understand as a practitioner of yoga is the difference between these two realms, Yoga and Contortion. Moreover, we have to have a clear understanding of what yoga is if we want to have the real effect of it in our life. Or else our practice might lead us somewhere else.
Practice of Yoga is a completely different thing from how bendy we are on our physical self. Yoga is a holistic and mindful approach to bring a balanced state of our mind, body and soul. Through several different disciplined practices, on top of asana practice, yoga aims to bring a well-balanced life to us. It’s obvious that when we practice physical posture we get strong and flexible body in the long run but this is never the only goal of yoga practice. There is no shaming or inferior feeling in yoga practice even when we cannot get extremely bendy or even if we cannot do a handstand because that is never the primary goal of yoga practice. Yoga thinks far beyond the physical. It goes to our mind and soul and combines all three realms – physical, mental, and emotional – and establishes thread of balance to connect them.
The contortion practice is a different practice than yoga. It’s more about physical self and achievement. While practicing contortion, we try to achieve a certain physical goal no matter what we go through. It’s an extreme physical practice where our target is to become as bendy as possible or at least like the other guy. There is the feeling of competition which takes us to an extreme level of practice. The feeling of competition might build up ego in us. Mindfulness lacks in ego. When we cannot be physically bendy and strong like other person, our ego is hurt. At some point, there comes a situation in this kind of practice where superior and inferior complex might take over us.
When we want to go on a yoga journey, we must first understand why we want to go. In a yoga practice body is not the only goal and it is never a primary goal. We must understand body and beyond to be a real yogi. Yoga is a life long journey in quest of holistic health and well-balanced life. When we go for some bigger and life changing purpose, subtle things like body flexibility come along the way. Physical health and fitness is obviously a part of well-balanced life but not a primary target. When we limit ourselves on the physical realm, it keeps us from exploring other realms of our life which is certainly a big hindrance on meaningful yoga journey.
What are you practicing, yoga or just contortion?