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What does it mean to be "good" at yoga?


Man doing yoga pose
Mayurasana requires open shoulders, strong flexible wrists, and core stabilization

One day I was waiting at the bus stop after yoga class and a young man asked me if I did yoga. (I guess the yoga mat gave me away.)

“Yes,” I replied.

“Are you good at it?” he asked.

I hesitated before answering. Frankly, I have a hard time admitting I'm good at anything and I suspected that his criteria for being good at yoga were different than mine. So, I asked him, “What do you mean by good?"

"Can you do a planche?" he asked.

"No, I can't," I replied.

"Hmm...I'm working on a planche. It's hard," he added.

Indeed, it is. A planche is similar to what we call peacock pose (aka Mayurasana). It’s considered an advanced pose and requires open shoulders, strong flexible wrists, and core stabilization. It’s the kind of pose that one generally works on for a while with a fair amount of face plants along the way. So, what does it mean to be good at yoga?Back when I was in Yoga Teacher Training, I was on the phone with my father one day telling him about my training.“Can you do all the poses?” he asked.I thought, “All the poses—even the Cirque du Soleil contortionist-like ones?” I reassured him that I could still teach yoga even if I couldn’t do every yoga pose. He seemed skeptical. So, what does it mean to be good at yoga?I’ve had the privilege to learn from and practice with many people whom I consider to be good at yoga. Here are some of the qualities they share:

  • They practice with a balance of effort and ease

  • They don’t worry about what others are doing; they don’t need to “keep up” or prove themselves