While catching some vertical after teaching a few weeks ago, I started thinking about my inversion practice. For as long as I've been doing them, I've never been able to nail a "perfect" handstand (whatever that means.)
I can say with complete honesty, that I'm in love with the process of learning to use my body in new ways. It's exhilarating to be able to place your hands on the floor and lift all of your weight up gracefully. It is just as exhilarating when it is semi-graceful, and sometimes more so when it is not.
It gives me confidence to know that I can fall and catch MYSELF. I know now that whatever happens I can rise up and stand on my own two feet. My handstands get BETTER with practice not because they look better (sometimes they do) but because I become more comfortable with them, I can hold them for longer, I feel stronger, and I can play and experiment more while I'm on my hands. They are never "perfect." I hope they never are. How boring would that be?
"All bad qualities center round the ego. When the ego is gone, Realisation results by itself. There are neither good nor bad qualities in the Self. The Self is free from all qualities. Qualities pertain to the mind only."
When your practice centers around achieving a specific asana, or perfecting it, you lose sight of the purpose of the practice. The purpose of the practice is to prepare the body to be an acceptable vessel in which your essence (some like to use the word "soul") reaches enlightenment, and releases ego altogether. The "I" achieves nothing. "I" did not do a handstand, the "I" does not exist. It is an illusion.
At the end of the day, ASANA is only ONE of the Eight Limbs of the practice (it's actually the third). In the same way that you are multifaceted, so is yoga. YOU are layered, unique, and complex. Your practice should reflect that, and focusing only on the asana robs you of the opportunity to expand.
I also struggle with ego, and my teachers tell me that for as long as we live, EGO will be a part of the experience, and letting go of it will be a part of the practice.
Perhaps we are never rid of ego until we cross the threshold from this world into the next. Many cultures believe that the final lesson, or challenge, is to let go of your attachment to life itself. (This doesn't work for me, as I'm pretty attached to life-- and chocolate).
Until then, we can only do our best to keep an eye out, and observe where we are robbing ourselves of the opportunity to expand our practice and improve our svadhyaya, or self-study.