The struggle to struggle

One of my teachers once said “Those who fall over a million times are those who will end up with the most beautiful headstands.” Struggle (and to an extent failure) is part of the journey – in life as well as in practicing yoga.

The problem with struggle or failure though seems that it’s not very fashionable at the moment. If you were to believe the images that instagram, pinterest or facebook are feeding us, hardly anybody ever struggles. Yoga seems to be mainly about white, female bodies mastering advanced poses in skimpy outfits.


In yoga classes, we are often reminded not to look at the mat next to or in front of us, but instead to turn our view inward and concentrate on our own practice.

Yet by spending more time checking our social media feeds than we are with our real life friends, we are drip feeding ourselves an image of unattainable perfection. Because what we are seeing is just a tiny snippet of another person’s life. It might be a pretty perfect snippet, but it’s not all there is. Everybody, without exception, is struggling in life at some point. Yoga is a great way to remind ourselves that the journey (bumps included) can be more important than arriving at the goal, to be patient and kind. Not only to others, but also to ourselves.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Ian Maclaren

I love the above quote, because it works in so many different directions. Be kind, to others – don’t judge. Be kind to yourself – it is normal to struggle. Be kind – don’t get envious, as you never know what battle the other person is fighting.

I had people telling me they can’t do yoga, because they are not flexible enough, they are too old or they feel that they don’t have the right figure for it. This deeply saddens me, as yoga really is for every body! We mustn’t allow an image of unattainable perfection to put anybody off starting to practice.

The above picture shows me struggling to get into Svarga Dvidasana (Bird of Paradise pose). It’s not the first time I found this pose really difficult – I once injured my hamstring badly here. So much for being kind and patient…


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