Consider for a moment that you are not your body, rather, imagine that your body is a car and that you are the driver.
First off, know that the exterior appearance of the car doesn’t matter. Looking around to see if people are noticing the elegant lines of the car’s body and it’s dazzling paint job is just a distraction from what you're supposed to be doing. Instead, take a look around the inside of the car.
Is it cluttered with fast food bags and Tim Horton’s coffee cups? Are there stains on the tattered seats and crumbs in the cup holders? How clean is the inside of the windshield? Can you even see where you’re going?
Now turn your attention to the unseen yet crucial parts of the car—the engine and drivetrain. How is your engine running? Are you doing regular maintenance on it? What kind of fuel are you putting into the car? Are you putting the cheapest gas in to save money now, or are you putting in premium to increase engine life? These things matter far more than the outside appearance of the car.
Now, consider that the your yoga practice is like taking a driving lesson with an instructor in the passenger seat of your car.
Before the instructor gets in the car, do you have to quickly clean off the seat, making hasty apologies about the condition of the inside of your car? Doing your yoga practice every day is like regularly tidying up, dusting off the dashboard and Windexing the windshield. You’re always ready should anyone decide to take a ride with you. Pretend that every day there’s a chance that someone is going to do a pre-ride inspection of the inside of your vehicle. Better yet, do the pre-ride inspection yourself.
So now you start driving. When there’s someone else in the car, aren’t you always a little more aware of what you’re doing? Still, it’s easy to fall back into old patterns and become distracted from the road.
Every time you start to become preoccupied—playing with the radio, looking at yourself in the mirror, tweeting about the traffic—the instructor will ask, politely yet firmly, that you pay attention to the road.
If an instructor is in the car are you going to be cursing out every driver that crosses your path? What does your interior dialogue sound like?
The whole time the car is moving, you believe that you have full control of the vehicle (that you are making it go!) but the instructor can override those controls at any time, should you completely lose focus.
When you’re fully engaged in your yoga practice (when you're actually doing yoga and not just going through the motions), it’s a lot more like driving a motorcycle, where all of your senses have to be focused on the road. It’s why you often hear bikers say things like, “by the second turn I’ve forgotten about all my troubles”. Yoga has the same effect.
So, while you do your yoga—at the very least—try to be the instructor, not the driver. Even better, ride a bicycle. It’s better for you and the planet, but be careful—there are a lot of drivers out there fiddling with the radio.