What is perfection?

Why do we find ourselves seeking perfection in our yoga practice? Is that good?

BKS Iyengar believes that it is good to have a goal of perfection and we should dream of it as it will encourage us to get better and better. He also feels, however, that we need to be careful though as ‘over ambition can be destructive’ and the ultimate goal of perfection should be strived for gradually with patience. With this in mind, we should be aware that having strived for perfection (this often happens in yoga) that the moment we feel we have perfected a pose, we have completely lost what we had and we are not fully present.  What is left to aim for now!  Iyengar tells us that he deliberately demonstrates a ‘perfect’ asana (yoga posture) in front of his students with perfect alignment and positioning but it is dead inside as his mind is elsewhere. Perfection is not always what it appears to be from the outside.

I understand this point and have experienced this myself many times both as a teacher & practitioner. I also believe however, as life if not perfect, yoga is imperfect in many ways. Every day of practice is different and we should acknowledge every time we undertake a posture as a new experience each time we do it.  David Life sums this up well by giving a description of an average week in the life of a yoga practitioner;

‘Monday: tight, Tuesday: limber, Wednesday: strong, Thursday: weak, Friday: injured, Saturday: injury free and Sunday: uninspired’.

You can imagine what his experience is like over a full year of practice! In some ways I find that ‘perfection’ is control, being judgemental and ego based. To me ‘imperfection’ is more like contentment, losing that grip of control and acceptance. Perhaps there is room for both.

What is perfection anyway? Perfection to you might be nowhere like perfection for someone else. That is the great thing about yoga as it is adaptable and fluid.  We use these tools in our practice for infinitely different reasons and needs. Like the beautiful flowers in these pictures..is one more perfect than the other or is the quality and beauty in the imperfection?