The Difference Between Stamina and Ability


Stamina is good.

The ability to perform yoga asana well is pretty meaningless to me. The stamina to do asana for ninety minutes to two hours is quite meaningful.

Not everyone is born to do advanced yoga. From my perspective students who are able to poses like lotus and put their feet behind their head (and do splits, and….) are most likely born with a certain predisposition to moving that way.

And that is a fine thing. As someone who fits into that category it is also a fun thing. My joints allow me to do some fairly crazy contortions if I so desire.

When I first started doing yoga everyone was amazed at how easily I dropped into pigeon pose and how effortless ankle to knee pose was. As it turns out— the lack of tension in these poses pointed to weakness that I didn’t understand until after three knee surgeries.

When I am teaching (which is less and less these days) I remark often about how things will get easier as a student commits to taking more classes. In truth many of the asana’s might not become all that much easier (if the hips won’t open) but the stamina to take an entire class will improve no matter how deep your poses are.

When I first started practicing, I needed to go home and nap after a class. Not to mention that I couldn’t walk up and down stairs after the first couple of classes due to being ridiculously sore. I would watch students take more than one class and think they were insane. And that I would never be able to do that.

Lo and behold, after a year or so of taking class six days a week, taking classes back to back with little to no difficulty became the norm.

So even if your ability is limited and you can’t go as deeply as someone on the mat next to you, committing to a consistent practice will pay off for years to come. Stamina is a good thing to have.


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