In doing a forward bend, some people can easily fold in half and grab their feet. Some may even be able to stand on a step, and reach down below their feet without feeling any discomfort in their backs or hamstrings. Others are just not that flexible. Bending over, they find that placing their hands at their knees is as far as they can possibly go.
You might think that the more flexible person, the one who stretch farther, is the better yoga practitioner. But that’s not necessarily so. If each person is at their comfortable capacity, on that edge where they are doing as much as they can, feeling that they are working, but are not doing harm to themselves; if each person is at that point, they are all doing the physical pose correctly. And only the person practicing the pose knows if that is where they are. The yoga instructor can’t see that, and neither can anyone else in the class.
There is another way yoga has taught me the importance of being non-judgmental. In my individual practice, I have learned from my teachers that I must seek for “the quiet in the pose.” As I hold a position, say triangle pose (trikonasana), I am to feel my body, observe its strength and balance and weakness without judgment. I am to recognize what is. This doesn’t mean that I cannot challenge myself, to extend farther and make my body more closely approach the ideal form of the pose. It means that I accept what I am, the best that my body can do, without condemnation. Ideally, that acceptance can lead to a quietness of the mind, in which you are no longer criticizing or planning, and you can be at peace for the moment.
So I have learned that I cannot compare others, nor condemn myself, as I practice yoga.
I post this here, in a blog devoted to earth stewardship, because I want us to practice that same non-judgment with each other. Let us all practice stewardship together. Let us give each other the benefit of hope, that though our individual stewardships may look different to the outsider, that we each are striving to do the best we can, given our individual circumstances. Let us continue to strive to be good stewards, and not be discouraged by our own small failures to live up to our ideals.
I plan to continue to post on practical ways that we can be good stewards in the living of our daily lives. Please do not feel that your life must look exactly like mine, or dismiss me for working on such a small scale. In this practice, we must both do our best and accept our limitations. The merits of our stewardship will be seen in our lives, and I pray that that will persuade others to join us, and encourage us in our efforts, but in the end, only God can judge.