November 7, 2022
The Will to Win
One of the things many people find comforting about yoga is that it’s not a competition. It’s simply a practice. A personal journey of self-exploration. One that invites us to slow down, to take our time, and as much as possible to enjoy the process of being and becoming who we are. But just because there are no world titles or championship trophies on the line doesn’t mean there’s no winning or losing when it comes to yoga.
As any seasoned practitioner will attest, yoga can be extremely challenging. One of the reasons for this is because it has a way of confronting us with our limitations—or at least, our perceived limitations. Whether it’s a posture or a movement that we feel we don’t have the strength or flexibility to accomplish, or a principle that we struggle to put into practice, inevitably there comes a point in every yogi’s journey when our minds and bodies will say, “I can’t.”
This is where winning and losing come into play. And let me be very clear: It’s not about pushing yourself past your limit, or forcing your body to do something it’s not ready to do so that you can feel “victorious.” It’s simply about not giving up on yourself. Winning at yoga doesn’t necessarily mean you nail the pose or develop superhuman abilities. It just means you summon the will to maintain perspective, to not lose hope, and to make sure you’re doing the absolute best you can do. Then you accept whatever happens from there with grace and gratitude.
Recently I filmed two practices for IDM TV—Power to the People, Parts I & II. Unless you’re unusually strong and limber, chances are you’ll find these practices to be challenging. That’s by design. I created them not to discourage you, but to offer you an opportunity to confront your limitations, and to work through them mindfully. If you have a chance, I hope you’ll give these practices a go, and pay close attention to any moments where your mind and body want to say, “I can’t.” More often than not, there’s an opportunity in those moments to slow down, to feel a little deeper, and to try again. And again. And again.
Keep in mind, it’s a fine line between accepting our current limitations and throwing in the towel. The difference is in how each makes us feel. When we throw in the towel, we feel defeated. When we accept our current limitations, we know we’ve done our best, we feel proud of our efforts, and we look forward to coming back and trying again another day. That’s winning, and the more you can cultivate your will to win, the more growth and joy you’re bound to discover through your practice.
Below are some recommended classes to put this into practice: