t happens all the time, people practice yoga—sometimes for five, ten, or more years—as if the goal was to get good at yoga, as if perfecting a yoga posture was some sort of holy grail, as if somehow, when they are able to do the perfect triangle pose, the perfect headstand, or perfect elbow balance, then their lives will be magically improved.
The fact is that there was a time when I couldn’t even touch my toes. Now, I can touch my toes, stand on my head, and whip out a whole library of fairly impressive yoga postures.
The number of problems this has solved in my life?
Precisely zero (although, in truth, trimming my toenails has gotten a bit less awkward).
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that performing yoga postures has no value—on the contrary. There are inarguably benefits to be had from folding and bending and balancing and such. But what I am suggesting is that our physical practice of what in today’s world has come to be known as yoga is an opportunity to do much more than merely improve your yoga practice.
This is why around Yoga Pura we like to say yoga isn’t about yoga, it’s about your life.
More specifically it’s about understanding and transcending the unexamined limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging mental tendencies that have been poisoning your life for years.
The truth is that somewhere on the upside of 80% of life’s misery is self created. It’s misery that is generated not by circumstances, but by our dysfunctional relationship to those circumstances. And striking at the heart of this dysfunctional relationship, forging a new and harmonious way of relating to our life, in all the glory of its ups and downs, is where the true power of yoga really begins to shine.
The good news about this kind of misery is that, because it is self-created, it is also optional.
Great frustration, anguish, and anger don’t necessarily follow right along with all of life’s challenges. Just look around you. We all know people who seem to be masters of surfing easily over the waves that are life’s difficulties; and others who are completely bowled over by even the tiniest of ripples.
This leaves the only question as: Who do you want to be? A world class surfer smiling as you carve down the face of the day’s challenge? Or a hapless clod with a swimsuit full of sand and a belly full of seawater?
Best of all, contrary to popular belief, the ability to surf through life in this way is not an innate gift reserved only for a chosen few; it’s a skill that can be developed—and your yoga practice, artfully conducted, is your training ground.
They key is in understanding how each piece of yoga’s technology is designed to work to keep you balanced and smiling, no matter what wave you’re riding.
Eric Walrabenstein is a best-selling author, ordained Yogacharya, and nationally-renowned educator in the fields of yoga and mind-body wellness. His work focuses on helping people to practically apply the lesser-known aspects of yoga and mindfulness to solve some of the most urgent and immediate problems of our time.
He is the founder of Yoga Pura, one of Arizona’s largest yoga wellness centers, the creator of the BOOTSTRAP Yoga System developed for the U.S. military and the BrightLife suite of programs for healing and empowerment. Eric's work has been widely featured in the media including on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Success magazine, Yoga Journal, and beyond and he's the host of the popular podcast This Perfect Moment. Learn more at www.ericwal.com.