The average yogi is aging. They are turning to yoga for the mind-related benefits the practice brings: reduced anxiety, lower stress levels and better sleep, to name a few.
When you step onto your mat, it is important to remember that every body is different and yoga poses will look different on every body. While it is natural to glance over at the person next to you to see if you are doing a pose right, comparing your version of a pose to the one next to you can damage your body as well as your pride.
The muscular constraints and skeletal limitations you carry with you will determine how your body will move in and out of poses during yoga. Old, young, heavy, frail, recovering from illness or injury, everyone will interpret a pose differently. The key is to remember that developing your yoga practice means listening to your body and finding peace with your physical limitations.
We are all built slightly differently when it comes to our bones and these differences determine how we move our bodies. It may be physically impossible to bend your body a certain way. And when certain muscles that are key to perform a pose are too weak or too tight, neighbouring joints and muscles are called on to pick up the slack to get you into the pose—potentially in unsafe ways.
Yoga is about being aware and present in the moment. To really practice yoga is to be fully accepting of where you are, body size, ability, restrictions, and all. Your body and your journey are unique to you, and using a block, strap or even a chair to get into a pose may be right for your body. Stop looking over your shoulder and start focusing on the only body that matters right now: yours.