The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Perfection is a goal that many of us strive for, including on our yoga mat. This can lead to feelings of frustration and inadequacy if we’re unable to experience a pose according to the way you think it should look. What if the reason you can’t go into a full split isn’t because you’re not flexible enough, but instead have a femur and hip socket that isn’t capable of achieving that shape? What if you approached the time on your mat thinking about what a pose should feel like, rather than what it should look like? Would you feel more successful at the end of your practice?
The functional approach to practicing yoga emphasizes the importance of understanding and respecting the unique anatomy of each individual and allows students to choose movements and poses that are most beneficial for their individual needs. This approach is based on the insight that striving to achieve the “perfect pose” is a fallacy, and that the ultimate limit to every range of motion in yoga is the musculoskeletal structure of the student.
Practicing in this manner encourages us to explore variations in different poses, settling in the shape that achieves the intended goal of that pose. With this approach, we can all achieve perfection as we listen to and honor the needs of our individual bodies.