What is it that you wish you could do without the fear of making a mistake? If you wish you could learn French, go out dancing, or write poetry but don’t do it because you’re afraid you’ll make a mistake, then you might just be a perfectionist. I know I’m one. A perfectionist is someone who demands excellence of himself. Often, perfectionists don’t try new things because they are scared of making mistakes and that can cause a lot of stress and unhappiness.
If you wish you could stop worrying about making mistakes and learn how to try something without being entirely sure you will succeed, then yoga is a great tool. It helps you realize that doing your best is what matters most. Yoga can help you overcome your perfectionist tendencies because it helps you realize that doing your best is all that matters. Good instructors will tell you that you shouldn’t try to emulate a pose perfectly or strive for perfect alignment, but rather that you should listen to your body and do the exercise to the best of your ability. The goal of yoga is to find a comfortable position in the pose, not push for uncomfortable perfection.
This isn’t to say that alignment isn’t important. Exercising improperly can cause serious injuries, like back pain, that can have a significant impact on your life so it’s important to do the poses correctly in order to avoid common injuries. That said, not every toe needs to be perfectly aligned since yoga isn’t meant to be a competition. If you are practicing yoga, it is most likely for your own physical and mental benefit, not to put on a show for anyone else. In this case, doing the best you can is completely acceptable. And if you learn to simply do your best on the yoga mat then the next step—transferring that acceptance to the rest of your life—is much easier.
yoga makes you feel good about yourself
Practicing yoga is a great way to let go of some of the stress in your life and evaluate what is really important. For perfectionists, there are many little things that just bug us. That typo that you forgot to fix in the last report you submitted can make you feel very guilty. If your hair isn’t done perfectly in the morning, you feel embarrassed all day. Yoga helps you to let go of all of that. Practicing yoga has physical and mental benefits that help you feel better about yourself. If you are practicing yoga with the proper mindset, you should find that you don’t have to aim for anything higher or better. Just doing what you can do is enough, so you can let the next mistake pass without worrying about it.
yoga helps you think more clearly
Sometimes when we have a lot going on in our busy lives, we perfectionists feel that we have to stay on top of every minute of every day. If we can’t, we get worried and confused. Yoga helps calm the storm of self-doubt. Taking the time for yoga helps you clear your mind so you can organize your thoughts and determine what’s really important.
yoga shows you that kind thoughts are better than critical thoughts
Most yoga studios are critique-free zones. That means that no matter how badly you do that pose, you are not allowed to criticize yourself! Doing yoga in this environment shows you that kind thoughts, toward both others and yourself, are better than critical thoughts. This helps you to leave your perfectionist tendencies at the door for an hour. Once you learn how to go without them for that long, it’s easier to translate that new perspective into your everyday life.
So, even if you think you are an incurable perfectionist, there is hope! Doing yoga is a great way to help you tone down your need for excellence so you can enjoy life more without worrying about the mistakes you might make.
Kayla Matthews is a motivational health blogger with a passion for yoga and healthy living. Her favorite pose is Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) and her favorite way to follow up a good yoga session is with a cup of Oolong tea. In addition to practicing yoga, Kayla is also a full-time copywriter and blogger who contributes to evolation yoga, 42Yogis and Lifehack. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter or visit her blog ProductivityTheory.com to learn more about her!