Addicted to Yoga
Yoga can be addictive. That’s both good and bad. It’s good when yoga takes over your life and replaces old destructive habits with new helpful ones instead. When you crave a deep long yoga session instead of a drink after a stressful day, then yoga has successfully rewired your brain, at least on some level. But, when yoga becomes an obsession with asana for asana sake, the addictive mind is still present and, unfortunately, can still be quite damaging.
If you practice the poses of yoga with a feverish urgency to just do it, you may end up sacrificing technique and intelligent use of the body in service of some random shape. When yoga becomes a game of asana achievement instead of a journey of introspection, the deeper spiritual intention of yoga often gets brushed aside. It can be so easy to import the idea that more is better. But that is a false equivalence. We are trained from the world off the mat to think that having more is the goal. So we often equate our value with how much we have, whether that’s degrees, cars, houses or yoga poses.
When asana is your addiction instead of yoga, the danger is that you aren’t actually participating in a change of paradigm. You could very well be reinforcing the same limiting mindset of your past. The poses that are most challenging for you offer the most clear glimpse into your state of mind. What you do at the edge of your comfort zone reveals your most deeply held patterns. If you’re practicing from a place of asana-obsession, you probably aren’t thinking about healthy technique. Instead, too much asana focus tends to tune out the very body sensations that hold the key to awakening. Intelligent use of the body is based on total presence. When you have to move in new ways you will have to learn how to think in new ways too.
At its best, yoga is a personal revolution that seeks to teach you disruptive tools of unlearning. You are not practicing asana to get better at asana. You are practicing asana as a tool to delve into the deepest reaches of your body and mind. When you drop down below the repetitive frequency of thoughts that play the song of the status quo, you will find your authentic self waiting for you. The unique combination of breath and movement allows you to enter the operating system of the mind and make some updates. Instead of beating the drum of where you are and hammering away at all that is wrong and missing, you get a chance to practice a radical new way of being—that is being at peace with yourself.
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