This is such a simple question that all yoga practitioners could benefit from when feeling anxious or self-judgemental.
When we ponder about this question, an immediate response would be, for myself, of course! However, if you have ever gone past pain to make your posture look like your neighbour's in your yoga class, ignoring your body's feedback, you might be doing yoga for others, and not truly for yourself.
While it is a great thing to explore your bodies's capacities and transcend self-created limitations about what your body can't do, it's extremely important to listen to your body's messages, not only during your yoga practice but in daily life
What are the messages your body is giving you? Feel, observe
If you feel that a posture is compromising your breath or it doesn't feel "right" in your body, especially if you are dealing with an injury, it would be better to either skip a posture, modify it or back up, to take a breather and perhaps try again .
If we don’t breathe, there's no life energy flowing through us; the breath is how our body communicates with the nervous system. It's what tells it to release and relax. When the breath is held, muscles stay contracted, and space cannot be created in the body. One of the purposes of doing yoga is to breathe more efficiently, so that we can relax, find more clarity, feel more balanced from the inside out and just feel good.
Ask yourself :
Am I at ease?
If doing a posture or transition is making you feel anxious, restless, discouraged or "inflexible", it could be that you're holding on to an expectation or an idea about how the posture should look like because you saw someone in your class do it.
When you compare your unique body and practice to someone else's whose practice is more advanced than yours, you lose your power and along with it, your motivation.
On the other hand, if you compare your practice to the one of someone who has just started practicing yoga, or is not as flexible or strong as you, you might feel a bit better about yourself, but ultimately all comparisons give you false impressions.
If someone's more advanced practice gives you inspiration to continue practicing, great! If it doesn't and makes you jealous instead, reconsider your practice, not so much the physical but the mental one
Don't ever feel that taking a child's pose, putting a knee down in a posture to find stability or not going all the way into the maximum expression of a posture makes you "less." What you can do on your mat makes you neither inferior nor superior to anyone else.
No matter what type of yoga you practice, don't do a posture for your neighbour or your instructor. Do it for yourself
When it comes to you and your body, no one can give you better cues than yourself. In your yoga practice, a teacher can guide towards a posture giving alignment cues to prevent injuries and make you feel more stable, but the posture itself will look different from person to person, and each individual will do a unique expression of a posture as no "body" is the same. It's important for all of us practitioners to listen deeply to "our" bodies and breath as we move through our practice and into postures, without looking around trying to imitate someone else's expression of that same posture.
Notice how you feel, check with your breath, ask your body how far you can go without neither forcing your body into a particular posture compromising your integrity, nor staying in your comfort zone. After all, we won't reach enlightenment by doing the postures, though they can help us see our reactions and responses to challenges, and with this, show us what is preventing us from finding true harmony . Respect yourself and your practice, it's yours and no one else's, and it will always be with you, as long as you step out of thoughts and into your heart 💗
May you be filled with love and kindness,
May you be a healthy and well,
May you be peaceful and at ease and
May you be happy
Love & Light,