Progress. Not Perfection.

When I first started regularly going to the studio to practice yoga, in what now seems a billion years ago, there was a man that always set up at the back of the room. He was friendly and would chat with the teachers behind the desk before class and nod a greeting to the familiar faces in the room as he would roll out his mat. He was never distracting or caused any trouble as we went through class.

The reason I took notice of this student was the way he approached some of the postures. Or I should say didn’tapproach the postures. We would begin Standing Head to Knee Pose and he would stand there with one leg up, spine straight and wait until it was over. He would always sit out during second set of Triangle Pose. Towards the end of class, he skipped Head to Knee with Stretching completely. That was his practice. That was his routine.

I never judged it, just noticed it, as he was always slightly behind me and in my vision. I had enough to deal with when it came to my own practice, my own mental chatter, my own dealings with the heat, that this man was just part of the scenery on my own yoga journey.

Several years later, when I was leading class and standing on the podium, this man entered the room. I hadn’t seen him in years. I recognized him as what I would call in our community, the Old Guard, referring to students that I remembered practicing with a decade ago, even though I really didn’t know their names or anything about them, really, but were always in my surroundings and memories when I think about my beginnings. He recognized me, too, and complimented me on the choice to become an instructor.

As we started class, though, I couldn’t help but notice that nothing had changed in his practice. Standing Head to Knee looked the same as it did before. He sat out second set of Triangle. He skipped Head to Knee with Stretching. Nothing had changed. It was ten years later, and nothing had changed.

A few months in to seeing him regularly in my classes, I asked why he didn’t even try to grab the foot in Standing Head to Knee. He said he couldn’t. When I asked why, he told me it was uncomfortable. Painful? I asked. No, just uncomfortable. I urged him to try and lean forward towards the foot for part of the time. Next time I had him in class he never tried it, even when I urged him to give it a go. He simply didn’t want to. And that’s when I knew to back off, be grateful he was practicing at all, and let it go.

What I think stops most students from letting go of their quirks within their practice, or stops them moving forward through a block in the body and mind is they would have to embrace something entirely new if they do it. It’s not about the novelty of being able to perform a certain aspect of a posture, it’s who they would have to become if they could do it.They would have to acknowledge that things were changing, that progress was happening. They would have to be someone else entirely – the someone that could do the posture, the someone that healed a part of their physical or emotional body, the someone that was getting stronger on so many levels.

One thing I know for sure, is that people like their “stuff.” It’s comfortable. It’s predictable. When you start to let go of your “stuff” it can be scary. Life is no longer the same. You are no longer the same.

This week, as you practice, notice where you get blocked up, where you are still approaching the posture the same way as when you started, or the thought that pops into your head just before you move forward into new territory within the confines of a posture. Do you always fall out in the same exact spot? Do you always sit out at the same time? Do you always give up when an instructor gives you a correction or adjustment?

Notice it this week. Make plans to move past it the next. Embody who you desire to be and soon you will be that person. Whether it’s about accomplishing some goal within a posture, or a goal you are trying to accomplish in your life away from the studio, this is key. Give thanks for every step of your journey, but most of all give thanks for what’s to come.

Yoga Story of the Week

Name: Jan

Home Studio: Bikram Yoga Aurora

I was intrigued by the concept of the hot room after my daughters had taken some classes. I practiced for a few months, had some issues with my knee (likely because I was still running then) and stopped going. I ended up going back six months later and now…. ten years have passed. Since I can’t run any more, it’s important to me to keep up with my practice. It’s the toughest workout I’ve ever done and as I’m aging I want to continue practicing because of the balance, strength, focus and concentration the yoga brings to my life. At sixty-five years old (young?) and three years post knee replacement, I think my practice is stronger than ever.

I know when I was contemplating my knee replacement I couldn’t find anyone who knew anyone who had gone through with it and kept up with yoga. I think people need to know that 1) you can keep your practice and 2) it will get better!

Check out more inspiring Yoga Stories here.

If you would like to share your Yoga Story DM Tori through the Views from the Podium Facebook Page. 

Love the blog? You will love the book- available in Paperback, Kindle, and Audio Book on Amazon, Audible, & iTunes! Follow my yoga journey and the accomplishments of five of my students, as well as, recount some of the most popular blog posts in my first book: Views from the Podium: The Life & Times of a Hot Yogi


To get the latest updates from Tori including upcoming workshops, news, events, private instruction, and book info, go to: and join the email list at the bottom of the page. Great things are in the works – don’t miss out!


Upcoming Events:

Saturday, February 16th – Hot Yoga Workshop, 1:30pm-3:30pm at Meadows Hot Yoga

Saturday, March 2nd – Arm Balancing Workshop, 12:30pm-1:30pm at FUEL: Mind to Body

Saturday, March 16th – Arm Balancing Workshop, 12:30pm-1:30pm at Bikram Yoga Aurora

OHYA Approved

6 thoughts on “Progress. Not Perfection.

  1. Hi!
    Just wanted to drop you a quick note to say that I LOVE this particular email / blog post. Change and challenge and becoming the person I can be is what keeps me coming back to the hot room over and over again.
    Thank You!

    Sent From My iPhone

  2. I’m a very similar yogi as the older man who paces himself in class and appears to resting thru certain poses. I like to attend class at least 4-5 times a week and feel its safer for me to cruse and enjoy the classes than push hard and try to improve a certain posture. I actually force myself to rest before I get tired and then I can finish strong. Bikram Yoga is scary. It takes guts to show up for class. By me trying 85% and resting, I look forward to tomorrows class. If I’m not getting better with my Bow pose, so be it. At least Im on the mat and staying the same. And that’s a hell of a lot better than getting older, stiffer and more fragile.

    • I love this David! There is always the balance in the practice and for every person it can be a different experience. Bikram Yoga is tough stuff no matter who you are and I’m glad you found a way to keep your practice going. Progress can be staying the same and staying healthy. So many people experience a health decline with every year. I am glad you are so devoted to keeping your practice going. Hope our paths cross at some point in the hot room!

  3. After reading this I got “air” in side crow for the first time ever! Namaste 🙏🏽 Maggie

    Sent from my iPhone


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.