Psychologists, led by Baruch Fischhoff of Carnegie Mellon University, have documented a disconcerting fact: becoming more familiar with a subject does not
significantly reduce people’s tendency to exaggerate how much they actually know about it. This destructive form of overconfidence is called “home bias” or the habit of sticking to what is already familiar* .
Think about your yoga practice. The longer you’ve practiced, the more you know, the less likely you are to probe your body and postures for habits or weaknesses.
Stated differently, familiarity can breed complacency. On the TV news, isn’t it always the neighbor, best friend or the parent of the criminal who says in a shocked voice, “He seemed like such a nice guy?” That’s because whenever we are too close to someone or something, we take our beliefs for granted, instead of questioning them as we do when we confront something new. The more familiar a yoga pose is, the better your chance of being lax, thinking there’s no need to investigate.
In our practice, we are seeking to reach a place where we can act directly in the present moment. Direct action stems from direct perception, the ability to see reality in the present. The next time you practice investigate whether a pose seems too familiar. Ask yourself, “What’s overworking here? What’s underworking in my body?” See what you discover.
* Sarah Lichtenstein and Baruch Fischhoff, “Do Those Who Know More Also Know More about How Much They Know?” Organizational Behavior and Hum Performance, vol. 20, no. 2, December 1977, pp. 159-183.