I tend toward perfectionism. I set extremely high standards for myself, and this makes it difficult for me to try new things that I may not be good at right off the bat. I really don’t like to look like I am failing at something or that I don’t know what I am doing.

This is why I love the fact that we call our performance of yoga postures our yoga practice. We don’t “do” yoga, we “practice” yoga. This simple word has been so freeing for me. It helps me let go of the need to get it all right from the start on my mat. After all, I’m just practicing.

It’s not a performance, it’s not a competition, it’s not even something I’m “doing.” I don’t have to get it right. I don’t have to look like I have anything mastered or perfected. I’m just practicing.

That doesn’t mean I don’t bring my best effort to the mat or that I don’t focus or concentrate. It just means that I let go of the outcome and give it the best that I have in that moment.

This has been an enormously freeing attitude for me. As I’ve learned to practice on my mat each time I do yoga, I’m also slowly learning to bring that attitude of practice to other things in life. This gives me the permission and the freedom to try other things that I may not do perfectly the first time. I can explore, experiment, and practice new skills with much less stress (and therefore much greater success) in all areas of my life.

As I teach my students, I invite them to bring this same attitude to their yoga practice. Yoga is not about perfection; it’s about practice. But then … can’t the same be said of life?