Dealing with Perfectionism


Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.  Leonard Cohen

Starting a yoga practice can be so frustrating. For many new yogis starting out, yoga brings up underlying perfectionist issues. We want to master every pose and do them the “right” way. It seems like the harder we try, the farther away we get from doing poses “right.”

I have learned the long, hard way that there is no “right” way to do a yoga pose. Yes, there are things we can learn about practicing a pose that will protect us from injury–those are very important to learn. But it takes a long time to figure out the intricacies of each pose, so when you’re starting a yoga practice, I recommend instead of striving for the “perfect” pose, you try really, really hard to listen to your body.

An important part of that process is learning to recognize the difference between pain and discomfort.

There is no place for pain in yoga. But there are many opportunities for discomfort. Physical poses (asanas) often put us in situations where we may feel uncomfortable, frustrated, angry, exhausted, and ready to give up.

Yet it’s often those times of discomfort that give us opportunities to get stronger.

So if you’re new to yoga and you’re feeling frustrated in a practice because you feel you’re not “getting it,” take a deep breath to clear your mind. And think of each new breath as a new opportunity to start again.

I’d love to hear from other yoga teachers out there about any quotes or stories they use to illustrate the struggles that come with dealing with perfectionism…


  1. Susanna Montezemolo says:

    I struggle with perfectionism in yoga and off-the-mat. In class, I can tell I’m aiming for perfection when I’m not breathing. I’ll be in a challenging arm balance and realize I’m holding my breath. Ironically, it’s a lot easier to get into those poses when I’m able to relax, breathe fully, and be okay with NOT getting into the pose. By trying too hard and being overly perfectionistic, I make it harder to get into those poses. My challenge in yoga as both student and teacher is to be able to stay in the moment rather than pushing myself to what I “should” achieve. Actually, that’s my challenge in life too.!

  2. Great post! I face this in my own practice as well as with my clients. For me, what helps is to reframe the meaning of “perfect”: We are perfect just as we are in this moment, and opening up to what yoga offers us also means opening up to meeting this perfection, the way the asana expresses itself in each of our unique and beautiful bodies.

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