Porridge that’s not too hot, not too cold, but just right.
A chair that’s not too big, not too small, but just right.
I reckon if Goldilocks practised yoga, it would be not too forced, not too relaxed — just the right amount of effort for sthira sukham asanam.
My own yoga fairy story is more like Little Red Riding Hood or the Three Little Pigs. It’s about fear and anxiety much more than Goldilocks’ sense of entitlement. She knows that she deserves the best. My practice is much more tentative, wondering if I deserve anything. Such beautiful physical shapes surely couldn’t belong to me? I hold myself back. I hold my breath.
I’ve been observing this intently during practice, wondering about the source of this physical reluctance to commit to each asana or transition. It’s kind of fascinating to begin to observe how the mind and body reflect one another. The interrelationship is pretty intriguing, exciting almost. But I’m also slightly bored by myself already, by my inability to immediately revise my personal history as it is written on my body. I just want the wolf to stop circling my mat and to go away, leaving me with a greater sense of freedom and ease.
And then I came across the expression ‘convergent histories’ to describe all the factors that contribute to our physical patterns of movement — genetics, injuries and illnesses, past activities, learned parental behaviour, beliefs and emotions (current and past). And I start to realize that my way of yoga isn’t something to change or wish away so quickly. It really is an expression of all that I am at this moment in my life. I should honour that first, meeting myself as I am with a little more tenderness and acceptance. Anything less would seem some act of violence against myself, a denial of all my experiences, a negation of my life as I have lived it up to now.
My sense of frustration with myself is replaced by a sense of humbleness. I am as I am. I know that yoga is changing me; I feel it every day. Each practice brings its own revelations, sometimes small, sometimes impossibly immense. So I could choose to be a little more gracious and patient in my self-observation. I could allow each revelation to be a gift of fresh insight well-deserved, rather than a recrimination or a regret that I was too foolish to see clearly up until now.
It would be quite a relief to practise like this.