An interesting, but possibly frequently unstated, benefit of a regular yoga practice, is that it changes one’s understanding of risk. I’ve always been a rather timid person, in terms of
physical challenges. I would bow out of trying new things, or engaging in things I didn’t do regularly. For example, at 44, I’ve never been on a pair of skis – snow or water. At first, I was the same in my asana practice. If a pose looked hard or scary, I would just sit down and watch, without really trying it at all. But, gradually, something changed. I began to be more and more willing to jump in and give a pose a try, even if I was pretty confident it was beyond my reach. My most said phrase with regard to new pose challenges tends to be “sure, I’ll try.” Arm balance? Sure. Inversion? Ok. Weird twisty bindy thing? I’ll give it a whirl.
Some of this is probably body related. I’m stronger and more flexible, so I have greater confidence in what my body can do. Things that previously seemed impossible now seem less so. But, it’s not just that, because I’m willing to try even poses that I’m pretty sure are not possible, as long as they don’t start to feel like they are actually creating injury. I think that part is psychological and probably completely related to the impact of yoga on the ego. I’m just not as worried about failing in a pose as I used to be. I can more appreciate the effort as the goal. I guess I don’t need to “win” so much. Giving it a good solid try seems like a wonderful thing.
Overall, I guess I would say my perception of risk for physical things has changed. I see less risk physically, but I also see less risk to the self. Now, don’t get me wrong, as a lifelong perfectionist, I have a way to go here, but it’s pretty cool seeing the change happen. Almost time for class. Wonder what I’ll get to try today?