How do I know if I'm doing yoga right?
This is a question I get asked a lot as a teacher.
To gain the benefits we seek, such as strength and joy, we must look inside ourselves and learn to ask the right questions.
You can ask yourself one important question while practicing yoga:
Do I feel contraction or expansion?
Contraction is a closing, a tightening, a heaviness.
Expansion is an opening, an ease, an opportunity.
Mindful observation of the quality of your body, your breath, and your mind during your yoga practice allows you to monitor whether you are moving towards expansion or contraction.
This is true for any activity.
With a little loving-kindness, we can gently steer ourselves towards expansion and forgive ourselves for perceived mistakes.
Appreciating the activity for its own sake, and not for the results you expect, creates a flow. Flow leads to a greater inner clarity. It moves you fully into the present moment and creates value in the activity itself.
Then the question of "am I doing it right or wrong" can then be discarded.
From Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:
The important thing, however, is the attitude toward these disciplines. If one prays in order to be holy, or exercises to develop strong pectoral muscles, or learns to be knowledgeable, then a great deal of the benefit is lost. The important thing is to enjoy the activity for its own sake, and to know that what matters is not the result, but the control one is acquiring over ones attention.