There is a concept in storytelling that I like to apply to yoga, and generally, to life. The idea of want vs. need. In every story characters have a want but remain ignorant to what they really need until the end, when they have a realisation that allows for a character arc to happen. Usually wants are external, while needs tend to have a deeper meaning and be more internal. For example, in Jane Eyre, Jane’s want is to be loved by Mr Rochester, but what she needs is to embrace her spiritual freedom.
A few years ago, while I was observing a yoga class, I realised the concept could very well be applied to yoga. Most people tend to go to classes they like, or put in other words, classes they want. Whether is a Hot Yoga, a Restorative or a Vinyasa Flow class, people usually choose classes that make them feel “good”. Of course, yoga should make you feel good, but is the class you’re choosing the class you need? If we think about the Gunas, rajas (activity), tapas (heaviness) and sattva (balance), we tend to choose activities that enhance the Guna that is more present in us, when we should be balancing them out to attain a more harmonious life. So, generally speaking, highly stressed people should be going to a more restorative or gentle class to bring some stillness into their lives and people who find it hard to exercise should be doing a stronger and more dynamic asana practice to elevate rajas.
The concept of wants vs. needs can also be applied to many aspects of life, let it be nutrition or relationships. We live in a society where wants are protagonists. We want things/feelings to be satisfied immediately and because of the ephemeral of their pleasure we keep looking for new things we want but in most cases, don’t need. But if we let our desires aside, can we think of what it is we really need? Can we try to find balance in our lives, a deeper meaning to who we are? Maybe if we pay a little more attention to what we truly need we can transform and grow, just like the characters in a story.