When I first started a yoga, my practice was very goal oriented. Nothing wrong with goals, but it was what was behind the goals that was problematic; harshness, judgement, rigidity in my mind. "Why can't I do jump-throughs like other Ashtangis?" "When will I ever be able to lift up in Utplutih?" "Why haven't I been able to master marichyasana d?" These "fluctuations of the mind" appeared regularly in my practice.
Fast forward many years later, I approach my practice with a genuine sense of curiosity, a gentle awareness (most days) and presence of mind.
What changed? Compassion, which I have slowly and regularly developed in two ways.
Firstly, one of my go to meditations when the rubber hits the road, is Metta meditation (aka kindness meditation). This has remarkably rewired my brain and left that judgemental inner voice to a whisper.
The second, and easier switch in my brain was educating my judgemental mind about basic biomechanics. Your tendons, ligaments, muscles and fascia have a big impact on your flexibility, but it's not the entire story. Paul Grilley teaches in his Yin Yoga; The Functional Approach (now available online) that no two people will ever do poses in the same way. Why? It's in our bones. Every human body on the planet has subtle variations in their skeleton. For example, based on the length of your femur (thigh bone) and the shape of your pelvis and hip socket, your joints will have a different range of motion. Your tendons, ligaments, muscles, and fascia will move based on the subtle nuances in the shape and length of your bones. You are born with these very individual biomechanics. That is the part where you can serve yourself a giant helping of compassion. If your femur and tibia (leg) bones are longer and your spine is shorter, for example, you might never touch your toes....and that's okay. Please keep this in mind as you roll out your mat so you don't spend your practice wondering why your body isn't working the way "it should" (and, please, stop shoulding on your sweet self).
Your biomechanics are also impacted by your history. How have you moved your body in the past hour, week, month, year, decade, etc? Have you had injury or trauma to the body? Stress? The good news is your tendons, ligaments, muscles and fascia can be changed with your yoga practice. This is where you can feel inspired. Each time you are on your mat, you can work to move these articulations, gently, ease into a more flexible musculature with the breath, little by little.
So, next time you roll out your yoga mat, you might start by taking a page out of the 12 step program serenity prayer; "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (your bones). The courage to change the things I can (your tendons, ligaments, muscles and fascia) and the wisdom to know the difference."