YOGA AND... ASANAS!
THE NAGGING QUESTION EVERY NEW YOGI NEEDS ANSWERED: AM I DOING THIS RIGHT?!?!
Compared to yourself, who is short and stout, your tall and bendy neighbor is flowing free and easy through a sequence, working their way to peak pose, let's say warrior 1. Said neighbor is standing firm. However, you can't seem to find footing. TIP: Don't look at your neighbor. To make matters more confusing, you look up at the teacher, who is also short but isn't having any problems either, leaving you feeling a bit discouraged. You're thinking; clearly, something isn't right, and you'd be correct.
Something that is often taught in yoga courses is body composition. Longer arms, shorter statures, wider versus longer mid-sections, anterior and posterior tilts, bow-legs, and more are all things to consider when practicing. Bodies may be made up the same, but their capabilities widely differ. That's the importance of knowing contraindications, or restrictions, and modifications. Yoga props and accessories are your friends. So while your teacher may be short and stout the same as you, she may not be bow-legged like you, which affects how your feet will line up in warrior 1.
The best teacher will always be your own body. It does a pretty great job of informing us when something's not quite right, or unbalanced and should you choose to ignore it, you will definitely feel it in the morning and maybe even for weeks after if an injury occurs.
The key to knowing whether you're in an asana correctly and safely is alignment and anatomy. I like to call it double-A. Yoga tends to get a bad rap because of how glamorized some may feel it has become. There's beauty in yoga, definitely, but it could unintentionally leave a sour taste in the mouths of those who may be starting a personal practice of their own. The standards and expectations are seemingly set so high that they can begin to feel unattainable.
So, to answer that nagging question, "am I doing this right?" and to rid yourself of false expectations, remember to consider these things—your body and how it moves. If you are looking at your neighbor, who is two feet taller, flat-footed, and slightly curvier than you are, then likely you are not doing it right. However, if you're checking your alignment according to your anatomy and body composition, then more than likely, yes.
Also, one of the absolute best things you could do as a student is seeking help from a well-informed teacher. Get the assistance needed for getting into the proper alignment for your body. Then you, too, can flow free and easy. Happy practicing!