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Modifying Does Not Make You Less.

What happens when you come up against difficulty in the yoga practice? What happens when you experience physical limitations in postures? What happens when you’re feeling discouraged, disheartened, and annoyed at your abilities as a yogi?

These are common issues that arise again and again for the dedicated practitioner. As much as we’d like to believe that difficulty on the yoga mat will eventually evaporate, it’s simply not possible and wildly unrealistic. Can we ever be entirely free from the hardships of daily life? Of course not. Therefore, why expect this kind of miracle to happen in our yoga practice?

I find we sometimes have impractical expectations of ourselves when it comes to yoga. We feel as though we “should” be able to do certain postures. We expect for our hamstrings, our biceps, and our spines to fully cooperate with the superhuman feats of flexibility and strength we’re imposing on our bodies. We inflict deep stretches on muscles that are not yet ready to be lengthened, or we force ourselves into backbends or excessive binds despite our best judgement.

But here’s the thing – that’s not how real life works. We can’t force our way through the world, expecting it to bend at our whim. Learning to accept where we are and what we have to work with will always be our greatest asset and will facilitate a long, healthy relationship with ourselves, our life, and the spiritual practice of yoga.

I’m not saying we should give up, settle for less, or stop striving for our goals – that sort of defeatist mentality isn’t helpful. But rather than plowing through life or being abrasive with ourselves when practicing yoga, why not modify when needed?

Modification does not make you less. If anything, it makes you stronger!

Occasionally I see students get discouraged when modification becomes necessary. The expectation they’ve set for themselves becomes unattainable and the only way to proceed through discomfort is by taking a step back, reevaluating the situation, and modifying the path ahead. Sounds straight forward, right? It’s not! It’s a complex process that involves introspection and acceptance.

But here’s the thing – learning to accept where we are and what we’re working with will ultimately lead to a more enriching yoga practice! Modifying when necessary will protect our bodies, expand our minds, and enable this incredible spiritual quest to last a lifetime. If we blowout our bodies simply because we feel discouraged, disheartened, or annoyed that we need to modify, we’re blatantly missing the point.

The next time you come up against difficulty in yoga practice, I challenge you to reframe your perspective and consider if modification would be helpful. Taking a step back to observe what’s happening and making an informed decision about how best to proceed is an opportunity to fully actualize the strong, dedicated, beautiful, and radically capable human you are. You’re a badass! Even more so when you modify.

Namaste my friends!

-Nikki

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