The best yoga postures are the ones that take more than a thousand tries to really master. These wonderfully challenging movements bring up physical limitations and strong emotions. They are the heart of the yoga journey. Rather than run from adversity and difficulty, yoga practice teaches you to welcome them and make friends with those dark places within yourself. When you find a posture that brings up your darkness, it is your chance to tame your inner demons. Yoga balances strength and flexibility in the body and the mind. The hardest postures give the perfect equilibrium between a sense of accomplishment and pride for putting in the work and the humility that knows just how long and arduous the road you have traveled really is.

If new students are afraid to let themselves fail, fall, and look silly along the way, then they will never experience the beauty of failure. The lesson that falling out of a posture teaches is perhaps more important than the experience of perfect effortless balance. When the path to success is littered with obstacles, you gain inner strength and fortitude from staying the course, from the first trial all the way into achievement. With yoga practice there is no need to hurry or judge the posture. Instead, the depth of the posture is measured by inner awareness and the ability to take the lessons learned on the mat into “real” life. When I started learning the Fourth Series of Ashtanga Yoga, I knew that the journey would not be easy. I fell, rolled, and toppled over in varying degrees of humiliation. The only thing possible was to smile and keep going with the full faith that one day it would all sort itself out.

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