I am a long-time yoga practitioner and teacher. I am also a perfectionist.
At first glance, these two parts of myself collide and contradict one another. On one side, yogis are supposed to be OK with what is and let things be as they are without any attachment to the outcome. On the other side, perfectionists are always striving for better and are never satisfied with what is. Perfectionists definitely do not know how to just let things be and very much attach themselves to outcomes and results.
But after more than 14 years of practising yoga and integrating it into my daily life, I have started to look at these two aspects of myself as complimentary, rather than contradictory.
Yin and Yang are the Taoist concepts which refer to the complementary yet opposing forces that are interdependent and that together create all aspects of life. Yin is more internal, passive, cooling and downward. Yang is more external, dynamic, warming and upward. Yin and yang are two halves that together complete wholeness. A shadow cannot be created without light, without up there is no down, and without hard there is no soft.
As humans, we all have both sides and qualities within us – and in fact need both in order to strike a balance within.
My perfectionist side tries to be Wonder Woman: always productive, taking on everything at once, and pushes me to keep going. While these do not sound like bad qualities, without any limitations or boundaries, my perfectionist side just keeps pushing and pushing until I break. The feeling of always having something to do regardless of how much I need rest, or thinking something should have been done better does not create contentment or balance in my life. Instead, I always feel like I am chasing after the next result and I am never satisfied with what I have already accomplished. I have set unrealistic expectations for myself which I will never be able to achieve.
My yogi side is content and happy with the way things are. It doesn’t try to perfect me; it allows to be who I am and follow the path that I am on. Growth and progress are present but there is no trajectory to follow, pressure to be something I am not, or to achieve. My yogi side is Zen, calm, and knows its boundaries and limitations. It knows when enough is enough and when I need a break. It knows when to stop holding on so tight, to release control, and to trust in the process. It also is learning how to be happy with being good enough.
When I first started practicing yoga more than 14 years ago, I approached it like I did everything else – trying to be the best and make the poses look perfect. But over time I realized that while alignment is important, it didn’t matter what my poses looked like or how deep I could go – what mattered is how I felt and the experience I had while doing yoga. Yoga is a process of self-inquiry and self-discovery. We use yoga and yoga asana (poses) not to make shapes with the body, but we us the poses to learn about ourselves and to discover.
The connection between mind, body, and breath that yoga brings allows me to forget about the everything else and focus on just being in the present moment. And when we are present – I mean truly present – nothing else matters. We are OK with just being. And through a consistent yoga practice – yoga and that feeling of just being and being content with ourselves starts to transfer off your mat and into your everyday life.
I am currently working on being OK with being good enough. I’m striving for being 80% good instead of 100% perfect. I’m not there yet – it’s certainly a process – but my yoga practice helps to guide me through it. And I know now, that like yin and yang, there is a balance to be found.
Do you want to find a better balance in your life?
Contact me to discuss how we can work together to integrate yoga into your life.
Written by Caitlin Lindsey