The Perfect Posture

by Stacey

paschimotanasanaI heard a story recently about a very famous yoga teacher who could touch the crown of his head to the top of his feet in a seated forward bend.  He decided that this was the most perfect expression of this posture, and that is what he taught.  When his students were practicing this posture, he did everything he could to bring them into what he believed was perfect.  He pushed, he pulled, he even stood on their backs, as if somehow this would help.  Still, very few people could ever recreate this posture in exactly the way the teacher thought it should look.

Take a moment after reading that story and check in with what is going through your mind right now.  Are you thinking that just like the students in this class, you will never, ever get your head to your feet, so you will never, ever be a perfect yogi?  Or are you berating yourself for that last (fill in the blank) you ate, because if your body were just thin enough, you could surely get your head to your feet and show that teacher how it’s done?  Or maybe you’ve never even tried yoga before, and you’ve just decided that the requirements to be successful are just too much for you.

Before your brain goes any further, let me give you a little more information.  This particular teacher has a long torso and short legs, enabling him to touch his head to his feet in a seated forward bend.  My friend who was in his class has long legs and a short torso.  In my friend’s expression of seated forward bend, his nose touches his knees, but his head is nowhere near his feet.  Either way, the benefits are the same – muscles are being lengthened and strengthened, breath is moving energy through the body, and, more than likely, that buzzy feeling you get from doing yoga is starting to happen for both of them.

So what if you have all the flexibility of a 2 x 4 piece of plywood and your forward bend looks more like a forward lean?  What if the size and shape of your body parts seem to get in the way of your ability to imitate postures seen in that national yoga magazine that shall remain nameless?  It doesn’t matter.  You’ll still get the benefits of moving your body with intention, using the breath to bring life to your muscles, and opening your heart to all of the beauty, joy, and wonder that exists in this moment.

Because the perfect posture is the one you’re in right now.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Madeleine February 27, 2011 at 2:26 am

Great post! I like that you bring up the fact that a lot of what we can and can’t do is simply the geometry of our bodies…

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Stacey February 27, 2011 at 5:11 am

Thanks, Madeline! Love how you put it – the geometry of our bodies. What a beautiful metaphor.

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Essemoh February 27, 2011 at 7:37 am

Congratulations on your first post and a great looking site!
I prefer to think that the journey is more important than arriving at the goal (or the perfect posture) a path of learning to be savored than hurried along. Make progress, but don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers, or watch the rabbits cropping the grass!

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Stacey February 27, 2011 at 3:00 pm

I agree, one must always remember to stop and smell the flowers – and watch the rabbits, too!!

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Megan Hull February 27, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Wonderful post! And let me add that I, belly and all, can bend all the way down and touch the floor with no effort, while my flat-bellied husband can’t bend and get his fingertips any further than about knee-level. We are who who we are — all in our OWN perfect postures!

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Stacey February 27, 2011 at 8:41 pm

so true! so true! bodies are so amazing in the way they are all so individual, aren’t they?

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Matt March 16, 2011 at 5:09 pm

I saw a reference to your page on Facebook. Love this story. I am in a yoga teacher training program and really want to be able to show others they too can do yoga. I have the flexibility of a concrete bridge abutment. I’m not skinny, not flexible and I love yoga and what it has done for me is invaluable. Love your writings here and looking forward to more.

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Stacey March 16, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Thank you so much for your comment, and your commitment to bringing yoga to people of all shapes and sizes. We need more teachers like us! Would love to hear more about your experiences in teacher training – my ytt opened me up in so many ways! Please stay in touch-

Best,
stacey.

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Kim March 23, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I’ve just become certified to teach yoga, and your site is inspiring. Many of my newbies are older and curvy. Thank you.

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Stacey March 30, 2011 at 4:10 am

Congrats on completing your teacher training! Thanks so much for reading –

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Ray Greenberg March 29, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Hi Stacy,
I love this story. It is nice to hear a teacher reaching out with the concept that where ever you are in your practice is exactly where you should be. I found your blog because you linked to my product site and I’m proud you chose us.
Peace,
Ray

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Stacey March 30, 2011 at 4:12 am

Thanks so much for reading! For me, yoga is not about self-improvement. It’s about self-acceptance. I learn so much every time I go to the mat.

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