I hate pictures of myself in poses (for the most part), and in general I feel like I "have" to post them from time to time from a "business" perspective. I'm working on sharing the value of a pose in pictures and video more than trying to "show off" a pose. Here's the thing...I hate this picture above. My left knee is not at a 90 degree angle (which it really should be)...I don't have all the corners of my body lined up...I'm not backbending very well from the front of my body..and there is a rounded-ness to my lower back. So why am I posting this here? I'm working on sharing all parts of myself with my students...it's important to me. This inlcludes the imperfect, the unplanned, and the truth.
Yoga Asana is so personal and changes every moment for us. What's captured through the eye of a camera isn't always real. It's taking one moment and putting it out there for others to like or ignore because they find something wrong with it. I admit I see pictures of bad alignment and I cringe. I mostly cringe at my own judgement because I know that these poses are not supposed to be perfect--so who the hell am I to judge? They never will be perfect. This is my dilemma with yoga asana photos and the whole insta yoga world. But really it's my dilemma with perfectionism, self-acceptance, and the practice of yoga where it’s at now.
Have you ever left a yoga class feeling inadequate or worse about yourself than when you walked in? I know I sure have…those feelings of inadequacy are all too familiar to me even as a teacher. “Why can’t my leg get any straighter?” “Why are my hamstrings still so tight?” “Why does compass pose STILL feel impossible to me?!” These are recurring thoughts during my own practice often. I think good teaching can and should facilitate one meeting themselves where they are. But so often the studio environment has become a place of “show”…how many handstand hops can you do? How big is your backbend? Can you really do this posture that no one else can do? How can you teach challenging asana that you can't even do? It’s disheartening at times because I think it encourages yogis to come to the mat with expectations. Expectations that they need to become super flexible, that they need to work hard to GET to a point where they can do specific asana, that their mind needs to be more quiet…and I think expectations mean that we don’t already see ourselves as whole beings. We don’t see ourselves as enough just the way we are. Is there always room for improvement? Sure. Should there be challenge so we can grow? Absolutely! So who’s responsibility is it to facilitate this experience? Ultimately it is our own. This is when we begin to melt into our authenticity and begin to listen to ourselves. We have to accept that the responsibility is ours to get to a place where we can see that everything we need already resides inside of us.
What if you were to come to the mat without any expectation, and instead just accept where you are today in this moment? How would that change your practice? Could we release the chains of expectation enough that maybe we could start to see that we are absolutely enough where we are? Could the chains releasing reveal to us the abundance of all that we have already residing inside of us? I think so. And for me this is the direction my personal practice is shifting into. It’s challenging to just show up with no expectation…to meet yourself in the good, the bad, and the ugly and then realize that you are enough. But I want to be in that place more often. I want that experience on my mat to bleed over into my everyday life so that I begin to accept myself exactly for who and what I am...and that includes the days when I may not be at my best...when I am angry, self loathing, depressed, or not at my best. Instead of putting myself through the fire of forcing change because I SHOULD be feeling a certain way, I can meet myself where I'm at. From that place of meeting myself where I'm at comes contact. From that contact comes a conversation, and from that conversation comes space to move forward rather than getting stuck. And maybe if we look inward closely enough without expectation we will see all of the abundance that is already within us.
I’m focusing this week in class on releasing expectation, and moving into abundance by seeing that we are already enough. We’ll be calling on Maha Lakshmi this week. Lakshmi is the Goddess of abundance in all things. This week I’m encouraging my students to call upon the energy of Lakshmi to see the abundance that is already flowing through our veins. When we release expectation in our practice we lighten up, every cell of our being becomes charged and fired up in a new way, our organs become more free, and we invite space into all corners of the mind and body. May you realize that you are absolutely enough just as you are, and may you begin to see all the answers that already reside inside of you and the abundance those answers bring.