One of the most common misconceptions about yoga is that it’s just stretching and doing fancy poses (a perception heightened by social media). I too, admit that I had a similar view. In fact, I only began my practice because I wanted the stretch, flexibility and ability to do instagram-worthy poses.
During the first few months of my practice, I thoroughly enjoyed the stretch, the feeling of being more flexible and being able to do more poses. I started out being unable to touch my toes with my fingers, but after weeks of practicing, I began to see results. The small improvements and achievements were the main reasons why I kept coming back. However, after the excitement of my newfound flexibility died down, I’ve found that yoga goes beyond just stretching/poses. It is about connecting with yourself. On top of the physical benefits, it works on my mental and spiritual well-being. By changing the focus to my breath, it calmed my mind and helped my body to relax. Yoga has also taught me mindfulness and self-awareness. What people do not realize is that the stretches and poses are just parts of a larger practice.
I’m not going to lie, I still feel joy when I am able to master more poses and get disappointed when I’m the only one in the room not being able to do them. However, I always try to remind myself that perfecting the asanas should be a bonus and not the main reason for practicing yoga.