Yoga transformation for life..... Really?

So I am sure we have all seen pictures on various social media platforms of men and women contorting themselves into various positions (bonus points if in a bikini on the beach), and we are promised of transformations where we can put ourselves into positions where we have to double take to see what limb is where. Oh, and we are also a super nice person that is never stressed. 

Is this possible.....?

Well yes, kind of. But not as you anticipate, because yoga is so utterly bespoke. My favourite definition of yoga is very simple: a toolbox. To name just a few, possible tools of choice include asana (postures), meditation, breathing, chanting, diet, reading, singing, the list goes on. It is up to you to experiment and try the tools, choosing ones that best fit your intentions and lifestyle. Even when you have chosen the tool, different brands and sizes are available. For example, if you choose the screwdriver (postures), there are all sorts of brands to choose from (ashtanga, vinyasa flow, hatha) and sizes (slow, fast, intense, soothing).

To help make these exciting choices it's important to have an intention, or goal. This could be entirely physical (I want to touch my toes), in which case asana focusing on hamstring stretches is for you. You don't even have to so much as inhale one singular waft of a scented candle if the spiritual side isn't for you. No problem. You may have a more mental intention (I want to be calm), in which case you can experiment with different practices and observe which make you calm. Even if your intention is the same each day, the tools can vary according to your moods and needs.

So back to the transformation. Well, do your hamstrings feel looser? Do you feel calmer? Maybe these goals become longer term, and so do the transformations. Even if they stay relatively small, being able to bend over the dishwasher without tweaking your back or being able to deal with situations at work without panicking makes daily life so much easier, and it makes it a lot easier for you to be happier.

If you want, you really could look like those pictures you see, and there is nothing wrong or unyogic about aspiring to that, in my opinion. Personally, I couldn't even touch my knees two years ago, let alone my toes, so my initial goals were entirely physical. But the transformations you find in yoga can be whatever you want, and you can use the tools every day, every week or once a year. But the one goal that should be the same for all: at least make sure you've learned what they are.


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