Advanced asana is everywhere nowadays. You can’t scroll through your Instagram without seeing a bikini-clad handstand pop into your feed. Now, fashion choice aside, I’m beginning to think these yogis might be on to something.
Before I lose you, let me remind you that handstands are NOT your way into enlightenment. I’m quite certain Vishnu (or Jesus or whomever…) doesn’t give a fuck if you are an amazing arm-balancer or not. Period. I mean, can you imagine it..."Sorry Jamie, you can’t return…that koundinyasana was just pathetic!" Seriously?!!
Remember, competing into divine acceptance is not the function of asana. (HINT: You already have acceptance!) We practice asana to dissolve all of our ego and attachments to anything other than what is and what we are.
Advanced asana can be your way into YOU. Here are five ways how advanced asana works:
1) It proves you wrong.
Remember that time you became a grown-up and decided that certain things weren’t options for you anymore? Remember how defeating that felt? Yeah. (Me too!)
This is one to the MOST crucial reasons I believe you should practice advanced asana. We need to be reminded that we are not done or defined. Challenging ourselves to always grow or surpass our status quo is an eternal lesson.
2) It proves you right.
At the same time, belief that we can be more grows firm with direct experience of our unending possibilities. Advanced asana is so so important, because it gives us direct experience of our own capability. That’s pretty f-ing rad.
3) It reminds you to play.
Spoiler: if you play, you have more fun! So many of us want more happiness and delight in our lives, and the play of yoga is one way to find it. There is no age limit on joy. Once you fall on your face a few times in an arm balance, you’ll begin to revel in this fact too!
4) It helps you remain a student.
You know how in grade school nobody loved a know-it-all? This fact goes for “life school” too! You are unfinished and this is one of the great gifts of life. Finding a way to learn everyday is an essential jewel of the human experience. Let the practice not be about mastery or finishing, but about beginning.
5) It teaches you how to be.
At the end of the day, we need to make nice with us. As we are. Everyday. This is one of my favorite gifts of yoga. Yoga teaches that we can be with us. Not in five pounds, not in perfect kukkutasana, not in the next relationship. You can be with you NOW.
The more we delve and dissolve the ego around asana victories and defeats, our “someday stories,” our shoulds…the more we settle into our being. It’s just as my teacher Manorama says: “Being is advanced.”