Be Kind to Ourselves on the Mat

Ahimsa, or “non-violence”, is the first of the yamas – the first of yoga’s Eight Limbs. It is easy to appreciate its relevance and application to the environment, animals, other humans, and self. However, having been in the 200 Hours YTT course for the past 3 months, I found myself appreciating the relevance of ahimsa on the mat.
I joined the YTT with very tight hamstrings and hip flexors. Naturally, asanas such as Hanumanasana, Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana and Urdhva Mukha Paschomottanasana are painful to watch and perform for the hamstring- and hip-flexor-challenged. Needless to say, I came to practice with profoundly conditioned beliefs about my own insufficiency, which led to a vicious cycle of me placing unrealistic demands on the practice. Also, not surprisingly, these beliefs caused me to compare my practice to that of others. I tried as I might and frustrated myself in the process.
Then I realised I had forgotten my intention to being present in my body and practicing non-violence in the present moment – without any agenda – instead of striving for “that” pose my body will take more than 3 months to attain. Why have I developed habits of forceful practice and harming my body in the process? It’s extremely helpful to remember to be kind to yourself on the mat, and that you should be looking inward rather than comparing outward.
Looking back at the past 3 months, I have indeed grown in my practice. I have learned not to push myself too far and to back off when I’m approaching the act of practicing violence on my body.
Let go of your practice “should be” and relax into what actually is. Namaste.
Jeremy Lim
200 Hour YTT (Weekend Batch)

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