My Life as a Poser

This week’s blog entry was written by guest author Claire Ricci. Claire is a graduate of Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training program. She can be contacted at

For years I lived with the tyranny of the yoga pose. I tried hard to make mine look the way my teacher’s did; the way I thought it “should” look.  I had marginal success, was set back by injury, generally felt pretty small, and like I would always be a beginner.

I stumbled into Viniyoga, which holds that the pose should meet the student, rather than the student meeting the pose. This changed everything.

When I tried to meet the pose where it was I felt inadequate. The pose was right, I was wrong. The tightness of my hamstrings or the length of my arms was irrelevant. My energetic condition of no interest. To be “good” at yoga meant serving the pose.

Meeting the pose where I was meant the pose served me.  My physical, mental, and emotional state mattered, so every practice mattered. I no longer had to struggle or be “propped” into position.  This shift in perspective caused a revolution. Like a well-planted tree growing from its roots, I expanded.

There is true beauty in allowing yourself to be exactly where you are, and striking out from there. It makes each practice a bit of an adventure as you discover what it has for you today, this one special day. Truthfully, this is the only real place we can start; no matter what we tell ourselves, or how hard we work we just can’t leap from a place we’re not standing. Missing that is what led me to perpetual beginner-hood.

I’ve had the honor of working with students facing challenges that made them doubt they would be “good” at yoga. Some expected to hate it. I get this. Who wants to return to a practice that feels like it doesn’t quite fit, or worse that you don’t?

It’s exciting and incredibly rewarding to see how fast these students progress as they shift away from the limitations they hold for themselves. Once you release the notion that you need to fit the practice and allow your practice to fit you, it becomes a whole new ball game. Struggle evaporates when you become aligned with yourself and stop pursuing the perfect posture. This is the payoff.

Now here’s the even bigger news: What happens in yoga happens in life. What we learn on the mat walks with us right into our daily lives.

Meeting ourselves in yoga is the path for meeting ourselves in all aspects of our lives. Being aligned with ourselves can become a way of being, allowing us to root and expand, transforming our work, our family lives and how we meet the world.

This is a giant gift to ourselves, and to those we encourage to meet themselves where they are whatever the context.

The next time you find yourself on your mat take a minute to greet yourself and ask, what can I do for you? This may be the most important question of your day.

Claire Ricci

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle!

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