Question of the Month: How do I keep from becoming discouraged in my practice? I look around in yoga class and I can’t do any of the poses.

This is a difficult question to answer.  Yoga is internal, personal, and not to be compared to the practice of the person next to you.  While in India, I was always looking around at the other students.  Geeta Iyengar told me to keep my eyes on my own mat. She asked (in a way only Geeta can ask), “How can you be aware of what’s going on in your own body if you are busy looking around the room at the other students?”  We have to learn to be attentive to our own practice, notice the imbalances and limitations in our own body and approach our practice like a puzzle.  With an internal practice our body will begin to fit together all of the pieces that didn’t quite fit right in the beginning.

We have to take control of our practice and know there are some things our bodies aren’t ready for yet.  I attend a teacher’s class taught by my primary teacher Zoe Stewart.  She told us to come into Sirsasana and bring our legs into Padmasana.  Padmasana is a difficult pose for me just sitting on the floor and Sirsasana is difficult for me all by itself without adding something else to it.  So I went into Sirsasana, stayed, enjoyed, came down.  I then sat on the floor and practiced Padmasana preparation poses.  My teacher asked why I wasn’t practicing the pose in Sirsasana.  I told her it was a ‘pose for tomorrow’, for today I will practice this way.  

Sometimes the most advanced yogis are the ones with the least impressive poses.  They focus on where they stand on the path without looking ahead.  Sometimes, the most wonderful place is the one you are standing in right now.  That’s not an easy thing to teach, it’s personal, it comes with practice, with disappointment, with a practice waxing, waning then waxing again. It comes with that one fleeting moment of Samadhi.  It comes without judgement or caring how a pose looks, only how it feels on the  inside.

In your next class, move into each pose, then close your eyes, how does it feel on the inside?  That’s  important.  That is where you will find the desire, the joy, and the determination to practice. 


About EssentialYoga Studio

Roberta has been practicing yoga since 1988 and has been teaching yoga since 1994. She has trained under master yoga teachers Swami Padmananda, Patricia Walden, Manouso Manos, Father Joe Pereira, Zoë Stewart, Karin Stephan, Liz Owen and others. She continues to study with her Iyengar teachers, Patricia Walden and Peentz Dubble. Roberta has studied yoga at the Ramamani Iyengar Yoga Memorial Institute in Pune, India during June 2011, February 2014 and attended Abhijata's intensive in Pune, India December 2016. Roberta is currently enrolled in Peentz Dubble's two year Iyengar Yoga Teacher Training Program. Additionally, Roberta completed training and certification with Elise Browning Miller as 'Yoga for Scoliosis' instructor. She completed a 500 hour Hatha Yoga Certification program with AURA Wellness Center and is registered with Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT 500. She has been a Certified Meditation Teacher since June 2007 and has been an Usui Reiki Practitioner since 1989. Roberta's Personal Practice Philosophy: Health issues have changed and deepened my practice. You will see many photos of me using a variety of props. On days I don't feel well, instead of saying, "I can't practice today", Iyengar Yoga has taught me to say, "How can I practice today".
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One Response to Question of the Month: How do I keep from becoming discouraged in my practice? I look around in yoga class and I can’t do any of the poses.

  1. Sandra Smith says:

    Tantra Yoga from the Kaula Syatem is practiced with closed eyes.Since I began practicing and teaching this system all sorts of amazing things have manifested for me and for my Students.
    Removing the temptation for competitiveness allows the body to just ‘flow’ to where it is comfortable and safe for it to flow in that given moment.When we listen to our bodies & remove judgement and comparison the possibilities are endless.

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