It's a message we hear all the time, whether we realise it or not. Take reality television, for instance. Reality television shows are filled with images of straining contestants pushing themselves in an effort to transform themselves into something else. A slimmer, fitter, and (let's hope!) happier version of themselves.
Yoga's cosy relationship with the modern fitness industry has led many people to believe asana practice also involves pain. If a posture isn't uncomfortable, you're not trying hard enough. This mentality is bolstered by the advertising industry which loves to portray fitness practices in highly competitive or adversarial terms. The world of self-transformation is, it seems, a pain-filled battlefield.
At InYoga, we believe self-transformation shouldn't be painful. While it isn't always a pleasant experience to discard old habits and replace them with healthy ones, there is absolutely no reason why going to a yoga class should feel like stepping into a battlezone. As Patanjali, the revered author of the Yoga Sutras, reminds us: sthira sukham asanam. The perfect posture is one where ease and effort are balanced. B.K.S. Iyengar seconds Patanjali's advice by telling us that performing asanas should be nourishing and illuminative. According to ancient and modern masters, therefore, yoga is not only a practice of self-transformation, it is also a practice of self-care.
So next time you're straining in Warrior II, give yourself permission to breathe and, if necessary, drop into Child's Pose in an empowering and absolutely loving act of self-care. Patanjali would be proud!
Article courtesy of Dr Heather Moritz