Plenty of people practice yoga because they sense that it has the power to shift their perspective on life away from the ego-centric, achievement-oriented model that the modern world incessantly reinforces in us. But it is all too common to see yogis unconsciously applying this same model to their yoga practice, striving and struggling to "achieve” new poses, comparing their hand position with other students, and working so hard that they forget to breathe.

I believe that learning to reduce our tendency to be goal-oriented and ego-focused is one of the most important lessons yoga can teach us, and one way to do just that is to think of our yoga practice not as a personal achievement, but as a gift. To give you a more nuanced understanding of what that might mean, I offer you a (paraphrased) quote from yoga philosopher Douglas Brooks to use as a guiding light: “What makes something a gift is that you didn’t earn it, you don’t deserve it, and you can’t pay it back.” What will happen to your practice — and to you — when you begin to think of yoga as a gift?