Confession. I’m a yoga teacher who doesn’t do Headstands.
I know, shock and horror. I could say I can’t do Headstands, and that might well be true (it probably is) -- or maybe not.
I do doubt my core strength and I must admit to an element of fear. But I can get my head to the ground most times in a Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose, which is a preparation for Headstand, my Uttanasana is quite deep, as is my Downward Dog. I practice other inversions and my balance is pretty good -- so perhaps it’s a matter of just giving it a proper go.
The thing is, I will do a Headstand when I’m ready, when I feel the desire to -- I want to grow in yoga, but I’m not fixated on a specific goal or posture to "perfect," and I’m certainly not judging myself (well trying not to) along my journey.
Anyway, enough about me.
Going for Growth
The point I’m trying to make is that I reckon our yoga journeys should be all about growth, first and foremost, and we shouldn’t stress over specific goals that may or may not demonstrate how much we’ve grown.
Growth looks and feels different to everybody. We each grow from the place we start -- the age you start practicing, the physical condition you begin in, through the frequency of your practice, the lessons of your teachers, and what you are naturally drawn to discover through yoga.
For some it will be the ability to stay still and meditate, for others it will be more "acrobatic" postures. For others it will be the mindfulness they are able to bring to everyday life.
For all of us perhaps the best measure of growth should be the better person we try to become.
Setting goals to achieve certain postures may motivate you, and perhaps that will be your main path to growth. But achieving a certain posture should never really be an end in itself, because the yoga journey is a lifelong one.
You may "master" an asana, but not be in full awareness of your breath -- have you really "mastered" it? You may make beautiful shapes with your body but still have ugly thoughts towards yourself or others.
Yoga is Something Bigger
Yoga is so much bigger than any single posture, any sequence of asana you might "perfect." It is bigger than short-term goals, even a series of them. And it is even bigger than the long-term goals you might aspire to.
Perhaps a true understanding of what yoga is (or could be) really begins in accepting that yoga is beyond goals or the sum of your "achievements." Yoga is beyond even our wildest dreams for what it could be in our lives.
So set goals, if they serve you, but do not become a slave to them. Do not let your ego create ambitions in your practice and in you life. Allow the yoga to be your master and humbly follow it along your journey.
No matter what goal you may set for yourself, yoga will inevitably lead you where you need to go.
Upside down or not.