In this era of dismantling harmful power structures, in yoga and elsewhere, can we consider the possibility of just practicing yoga without the goal of making “progress”? Like the gardener who gets up every morning to sweep the temple walkways, perhaps there is just sweeping the walk. Just that. Each time showing up, and sweeping the walk with attention and care. One day, it’s windy and the leaves and pine needles litter the walkway as soon as the sweeping concludes – why bother? Another day, it’s sunny, and the walk is spotless, the effort effortless, and the feeling of accomplishment complete. And in yoga —
What if you just did yoga purely for the joy of movement, the joy of knowing you are caring for your body, finding your grace, your balance, and experiencing your range of motion – with all the ups and downs?
What if you did an ever-changing sequence of poses that you took the time to learn, without pushing yourself?
What if you let go of poses that are outside your range of motion, that cause you pain?
What if a sense of “less than,” competitiveness, and goal-orientation were not a part of your practice? And if they showed up, you said “hello” at the doorstep, and then sent them on their way?
What if you turned a blind eye to social media, corporate, and celebrity yoga versions of how you should feel, be, shape your body, or spend your time?
What if each time you entered a yoga class, you delighted in the body sizes and shapes you saw, including your own?
What if your only goal was to practice yoga poses with good alignment (for YOUR body), with regularity and full attention?
What if you just noticed the changing patterns of feelings, thoughts, and embodiment that regular practice created, and released any self-judgment that arises?
Then, “progress” may not be how deeply you bend, how long you hold the pose, how focused you are on each breath – but rather finding the balance between effort and ease, fully showing up, each time, no trace.