Growing up as a dancer, one of my dance instructors always grilled into us that “practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.” What is this “perfect practice” nonsense?

1. repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency

Anything can be a practice (even something that’s bad for you, such as smoking cigarettes.) The more you do something (good or bad), the more difficult it becomes to undo. As you repeat patterns in your life, the more you travel the same neurological paths in the brain – eventually carving grooves that your mind and body default to.

Does this mean that you’re stuck with the awkward walking patterns and dysfunctional body movements you thought you were born with? No! In the same way that you can quit smoking and overeating (with an insane amount of discipline, willpower and practice), you can adjust your motions. Just realize that it took 10/20/30 years to get to where you are now, it will take a some time for you to undo that damage. Don’t be discouraged though – the mind tends to forget the grooves that were once there if you spend enough time away from bad habits.

Think of this like snowboarding – you can keep riding and carving the same path in the snow. Eventually you decide that you are reading to try another slope; the double black diamonds are beckoning you. After spending time away from your familiar slopes, they eventually become covered by layers of snow before being washed out completely. As for approaching those new slopes – it’s daunting at first. You’re unaware of where to go safely, and where the moguls and ramps might be. Once you start to have a better understanding of the landscape, you become comfortable enough that you don’t have to put in a conscious effort to head down the slopes.

Yoga is a practice that helps you become aware of where you can go and what you can do. It’s not easy to start from scratch, but being mindful of how your body moves makes you more appreciative of what it can do.