I was recently scrolling through my social media feed of beautiful acrobatic yoga postures and I began noticing a trend. Even though the pictures tended to be of very challenging advanced poses, the captions read more of life coaching and philosophy. There was little discussion of the physicality that it took to attain said shape, but instead more of a ‘how to get happy in the other areas of your life.’ To me there is a bit of disconnect here. I love seeing what people have done with their practice. It is inspiring to witness the levels of strength, flexibility and balance that yogis have attained through such hard work. But does that mean they also have mastered the non-physical? Just because someone can get their legs behind their head, does it follow that they are better equipped to tell me how to reach enlightenment? Maybe so. I know many people that have practiced all aspects of yoga for many years and are inspiring both in their physical manifestation as well as their way of being off the mat. But for each of those, I have also come across the ones who can easily perform any pose but take an effort to want to be around.
What is clear to me is that the body’s ability to do advanced yoga asana has completely nothing to do with wisdom or happiness. I’m not saying I don’t like seeing an inspirational quote or a lesson learned in someone’s writing. Those things are often times quite timely and poignant. I guess what I’m really trying to do is remind myself that when I think about the journey to my own personal peace and freedom, I don’t need to include mental images of me pressing up to handstand or putting my feet on my head. Of course those things would be nice, but they won’t get me there any faster.
By Vytas Baskauskas