3 Reasons Why Your Yoga Practice Shouldn't Have A Goal

When yoga poses are no longer your goal, everything that's most valuable in yoga opens up to you. And then, everything that's most valuable in you opens up to you. Here are three reasons why.

1. The most important place to be is here, not there.

When yoga is static and linear, it has an end point — the pose. Everything is aimed at the end point. This leaves very little time for being at the now point — right here, right where you are. And we need time here. We need time to explore and get to know everything we've got from exactly where we are in this moment. Everything you need is already right here.

2. Dropping the goal makes you better at achieving the goal.

When yoga is dynamic and circular, it has no end point. The poses are not actually the goal. There is no goal. This opens up a huge amount of time to be right here, feeling into you, right where you are. This is where all the good stuff is. With nowhere to go but here, you get to know you really well, and become amazingly capable at working with what you've got.

Practice this in your yoga, and you'll have it in your life. You don't have pose goals, you just have you goals. You gain an incredible capacity to move easily from right where you are, through any challenge there is.

3. It's all in the science.

We can improve our health, physical, and mental ability all at once, just by changing how we practice our yoga.

Here's the science behind it: When our attention is aimed narrowly and forcefully at accomplishing goals — for example in yoga, jumping and pushing into poses — our body is bathed in stress hormones, including cortisol. We become chemically less able to see the full range of options available to us. We are less creative and less intuitive. We're ready to survive an attacking tiger, but that's about it. Keep pushing this way, and we're likely to gain more weight than we need, injure our bodies, and suffer from a variety of stress-related disorders.

By contrast, when we move with ease we trigger our body's Relaxation Response — a chemical cascade responsible for overall health and healing. In yoga, we bring about this response by moving gently and exploring where we are, rather than forcing to be somewhere else. We get happy, creative and intuitive. It feels amazing!

Interestingly enough, we also become far better at handling any challenge, and yoga poses are just a small beginning. We find our own freedom to improvise, using exactly what we've got in the most effective way possible.

Removing pose goals from your yoga practice is available to all of us, wherever we are, in whatever we're doing. You have the ability to make life feel really good. You have what it takes to move easily through any challenge and feel wonderful every step of the way. It's a different way of practicing, and an amazing way to live.

Michael Taylor

Mike Taylor is the co-founder of Strala along with his wife, Tara Stiles. He studied mind-body medicine at Harvard and complementary medicine at Oxford. Mike has practiced Eastern movement and healing, including tai chi and qigong, for more than 30 years. In his younger years, Mike challenged centuries of reasonable and well-tested martial traditions in hundreds of competitions by applying unruly imagination to a world where rules were unbreakable. His record established the strength of finding your own way in your own body rather than copying the techniques of other people’s traditions. As he got older, Mike continued on to medical applications of the mind-body connection in university. After running into walls with standard medical practice in the United States and England, he left his health care roots for a little while. As the first internet boom was getting started, he joined the startup team of one company, then founded a couple more. Now through Strala, Mike has found his way back to health care done right: helping people let go of stress in their bodies and minds, enable their lives, and become their own best caregivers.Mike has climbed some of the world’s largest mountains in Alaska, the Alps, and the Himalayas. He’s now a cyclist and runner and spends as much free time as possible exploring the backcountry on foot, skis, and snowboard. He lives in New York with his wife, Tara, and baby, Daisy.

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