When I was in my early twenties, my friend and I went to a particular yoga studio for the first time. This was serious yoga. Everyone wore serious, solemn expressions while unrolling their mats, lining up their water bottles, and sitting in expectation of the instructor's arrival.
When the instructor arrived, she too was very serious. Instructions were given firmly, without the trace of a a smile. They were carried out equally firmly by everyone with Serious Yoga Faces, except my friend and I. We were trying to keep our novice giggles in, an effort that collapsed into laughter when he accidentally whacked my chin with his long arm.
The instructor looked at us pointedly and barked "No laughing!"
Duly chastened, we fell into silence, but we also never went back to that yoga studio again.
Seriousness Can Make You Brittle
There are likely very serious reasons you might want to practice yoga. You might want to gain more health or more relief from stress, and of course these are some clear benefits of yoga.
But if you can't hold a tree pose without being a bit or a bunch wobbly, will chastising yourself while squeezing every muscle you have to the point you think your head might pop off really help you become a graceful and balanced tree?
When we reach for or try for something so hard it almost hurts, what we are actually doing is creating more strain, both physically and mentally. We become rigid instead of supple. We miss out on the opportunity to say "Oh, silly me, there goes my balance again," then to try again without worrying if we will fall (we might!)
With a lightened heart, maybe we will never get a "perfect" tree or live the "perfect life," but we will have the opportunity to experiment with what works or what doesn't for us, to experience moments of fun, to connect with the person who's face we've just hit by accident.
Find the Joy
Whether it's in your own home practice or at a studio, ask yourself if joy lives there. It will be impossible--sheer drudgery--for you to keep coming back to the mat or to any practice if there isn't just the tiniest spark of joy somewhere.