From that perfection of Yoga posture, duality, praise and criticism, cease to be a disturbance.” ~Patanjali

Of course, this is easier said than yoga, or otherwise. One thing that I’ve noticed about my own journey, my own practice.. that as the postures begin to work from deep inside me to an outward expression, I’m less concerned with external validation – of how the posture is viewed by the outside observer. Alignment issues aside, the external ‘beauty’ of a posture (or common/en masse acceptance as ‘perfection’) is irrelevant and should not be the goal of a practitioner. With time and practice, sure..the pose will become easier to express physically, thus finding a deeper expression of the outward appearance – and thereby be accepted by the masses as ‘beautiful.’ In the beginning, perhaps we’re all looking for that external validation such as “oh, you have such a beautiful practice” or  “your poses are so beautiful.” I find myself, as a teacher, guilty of saying “you have such a beautiful practice.” However, when I’m saying it, I’m often referring to the depth of the practice internally, not the external expression of the poses themselves. I mean, really, who doesn’t want to be considered beautiful. But with beautiful must come the non-beautiful (i.e. “ugly”). Otherwise there is no frame of reference from which to measure beauty.

External validation is just that..external. As one practices yoga, over time the validation turns inward (whether we want it to or not)..and we become our own voice. So the duality of praise and criticism begins to disappear – the duality of beautiful and ugly begins to disappear. I find that as I practice yoga, voices internal and external to myself no longer tell me “I’m/ You’re beautiful,” “I’m/You’re ugly,” “My/Your postures are great,” “My/Your postures suck,” “..intelligent,” “..inadequate.” “..too fat/skinny, “..too short,” “..what I was hoping for,” “..a dredge on society and a waste of space.” Now, whether the comments are positive or negative, they simply exist.  They no longer disturb my journey. Well, not totally..I’m not 100% there yet.. that’s why they call it a journey – otherwise I’d be enlightened, awakened and sipping tea with the gurus of time past. Sometimes the voices warm my heart or lightly sting a bit.. but with practice the warmth softens to a moderate temperature, and the sting becomes bearable. The praise and criticism no longer ripple my pond – the spikes and valleys level out to a moderate, peaceful calm allowing me to let life ebb and flow in and around my molecules that make up my physical body. I do not think it’s about not experiencing the highs and lows of emotions; I think it’s more about not letting the external praises and criticisms affect your internal voice.  And I don’t mean that internal negative voice which deconstructs every fiber, tearing you down to a sad shred of human existence; I mean the internal voice that lies beneath which is where your true existence, your true nature, your true Self lies. Again..not perfect..not 100% there.. Clearly, there is work to be done.