When I first came to yoga I had some misguided and frankly hilarious ideas about what it was & the people who practice it. I thought if I practiced enough, I would grow taller, leaner, and bendy like a pretzel. At some point I’d look like the skinny blondes in the magazines with flawless skin and eventually I’d become enlightened...or at least enlightened enough that nothing would ever upset me again. While weight loss has been one of the many happy side effects, I’m no longer waiting on the rest of the list to materialize.
My first month of classes I felt as though everyone knew what to do but me, everyone could gracefully perform the postures but me & everyone looked like they walked out of the magazine excluding me. In hindsight, this was not the case, but simply a projection of the reality I was creating at the time. After a while, I stopped noticing others during class. I went to practice and work on myself. As I moved with my breath, my focus went inward and the outward stuff seemed to vanish.
Some years later, as a teacher I often encounter students with the same thoughts & feelings I once held. They have a million reasons why they “can’t” do yoga, feelings of inadequacy they believe are unique to themselves & all the other insecurities that come with being born human. These students continue to amaze & inspire me. They show up day in and day out, to practice, regardless of how they believe their performance is.
To me, these are the REAL Yogis. What is a REAL Yogi? I believe it’s anyone who consistently practices yoga in their daily life. (This is not limited or specific to a physical asana practice). And with all the foolishness that we get caught up in; wanting to get it “right”, thinking it should look perfect, expecting it to be easy etc. I am continually reminded that we often compare how we feel on the inside to how others look on the outside. This is neither a fair or accurate comparison & it doesn’t help us feel good. The reality is, nothing is easy for everyone. We all face different challenges. We’ve all experienced a life on life’s terms. We’ve all faced Fears and we all know how intimidating trying something new can be.
So it’s with this in mind I’m embarking on a journey to create more connection and disprove the misconceptions that we have to be anything to be a yogi. We don’t have to be thin, fit, rich, white, flexible, happy, zen, religious, or any other idea that you may have in your head. All we have to do is is be willing to try. Each week I want to feature a REAL Yogi. I want us to share openly about our experience so we can dispel this false sense of separateness and come together as the beautifully unique and yet not so unique people we are. It is not through our perfectionism that we bond, but rather through our willingness to show up & be authentic even when that doesn’t look or feel good.
So here’s how I feel today: Yoga does do amazing life changing things, but not always what we want or expect. Rather yoga gives us exactly what we need at any given moment. It isn’t always pretty and isn’t always easy, but it’s always for the best. If you’ve experienced the power of yoga, share your story. Together we can help inspire and support each other by removing the perceived barriers & cultivating unity.
To be featured please email Laura at PotentializeMeYoga@.gmail.com