We can play out this dynamic far too easily in our asana practice—consciously or unconsciously. We often get competitive with ourselves and others, believing that if we can go further in a posture we will somehow be happier. And, sometimes we are happier for a period of time. Then, we want to go even further or do an even more demanding posture to get the same temporary affirmation that we are good and that everything is okay. This can lead to a never ending cycle and an incessant need to prove one’s worth against an ever-increasing set of benchmarks.
On the other hand, if we can step back and trust the teachings that we are complete, whole, interconnected entities we can stop this cycle. Instead of the asana practice being a proving ground, it can become a laboratory in which we explore the phenomenon of embodiment. If you truly believe that you have nothing to prove in your backbends, you will feel free to use the postures to learn about your body and mind. If you have nothing to prove, you can be more objective and spacious about yourself and what arises when you practice. You are free to learn, savor, and appreciate the body that you actually have instead of striving for one that you don’t.
The body is complicated and it takes time to learn how to use it in a more skillful, effective, and efficient way. When you practice yoga you will learn about every aspect of your being. You will feel which hip is more open, which shoulder is stronger, which lung expands more when you inhale. You will learn how your nervous system reacts to stress and how your mind reacts to your nervous system. You will learn where your body gets stuck and your mind gets fixated. You will become an ardent, objective witness to your experience of embodiment rather then a fierce critic." - Jason Crandell