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Fundamentals of Yoga: Not Just For Beginners

"Listen to your body", "only do what you can", "do your best". Great words heard in almost every yoga class. Great words, though I fear that they may at times prevent some people from holding themselves accountable. It can also prevent them from truly doing their best and reaching their highest potential. Doing your personal best is easier said than done. Truly doing your best means that you have to be incredibly self-aware AND highly trained. You must be aware enough to read your mind and body as you hold those aspects up against something that has been trained and measured. Those stable and unchanging things against which we measure ourself are the fundamentals - the solid foundation that is universal, far-reaching and absolutely vital to any skill. Those are the skills that help us to truly work for, and master any goal instead of just dreaming about it.

Being fundamentally sound in something can be really hard, a lot harder than anyone could ever think. I'm no expert in the sport, but I've heard rumors that in certain sports like gymnastics, a perfect score only comes not from doing something inventive and new (those will get you a high score and lots of fans), but to get a PERFECT score, it runs deeper than that. To get that perfect score, you must prove that you possess the extreme character it takes to do the most simple, basic movements flawlessly. They can't just be better than your competitors. They literally have to be perfect, which takes discipline and a focus that is extremely hard to acquire.

Please don't think that I am saying you have to be perfect in yoga or that you are competing against anyone because you are most definitely not. But, you are practicing yoga and you are on your mat for a reason. You're practicing to improve your life in one way or another. And so in a way, you are competing. You're competing against the 'you' that wants to stay safe and comfortable, the 'you' that doesn't want to go to certain places in your mind, heart, soul, and body. You're competing against the 'you' that wants to let yourself off the hook and take the easy way out.

So next time you are in a yoga class and the teacher says something like, "raise your arm to shoulder height", why not give it a try? Why not try to raise your arm to EXACTLY shoulder height and hold it there until they give another cue? Or when they say "place your hand in the center of your mat", why not try to get it EXACTLY in the middle of your mat? Don't take the easy way out just because you want to. Try to challenge yourself and master the fundamentals. Master the art of holding yourself accountable and expecting the best from yourself. But don't ever ever ever, beat yourself up and judge yourself for not being there yet, for not being "perfect". Just hold yourself up to the standards of elite movements and measures. Master the fundamentals so that you can reach your goals and be the best version of yourself. Don't just dream about it.

Ready to take it back to the basics? Head on over to Joy Yoga Center for, Fundamentals of Yoga classes, Workshops and our Fundamentals Series.

By Holly Coneway

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