In July 2018, I abandoned caring about flexibility, structure, and the feeling of yoga. Free of a decade-long adherence to others definitions of yoga. I feel the flow of yoga more than ever before. Perfection exists inside each moment for each of us.
My Three Pitfalls
For years I sought flexibility to validate myself as a yoga teacher. How could I teach yoga and not be able to get a foot behind my head? Would people follow me on Instagram without a beautiful practice? Am I an authentic modern yoga teacher without beautiful asana? Acceptance of my flexibility and the release of neediness manifested space within my body I never knew existed (even at the peak of my flexibility.)
The structure and series of Ashtanga, Iyengar, Vinyasa, and Yin all took my yoga to a new level. However, a set series or philosophy creates resistance against your path with a heart in yoga. We are water, fluid and ever-changing beings who move with the flow of our deeper self and the universe. We build dams that prevent water from nourishing parts of our soul down the river. The excess of water a dam creates floods land meant to remain dry. Acceptance of how I feel each day and my true path in yoga generated a unique system and structure better than anything taught to me by others.
Breath, pain, stretching, a “yoga high,” movement, thinking and stillness do not determine the feeling I get from yoga anymore. Instead, mindfulness and acceptance of my feelings in every moment provides clarity inside the reality I create at that moment.
Your New Identity in Yoga
Who are you? Are you radically honest with everyone in person and online about who you are? Are your admissions of your daily feelings, struggles with depression, past trauma and triumphs on social media you? Or are we creating a self to divert others and yourself away from our true existence?
Gurus and books tell us our ego holds us back from enlightenment, is terrible, and that yoga and meditation can obliterate it. There are beautiful aspects of my ego I never wish to lose. If I model what gurus and social media tell me, however, I will need to lose those aspects of myself which I love for their imaginary goal.
Without 100% acceptance of yourself, messing with parts of our identity and ego is a dangerous endeavor. Anything less than 100% means you aren’t changing for growth and character sculpting, but rather modifying yourself for others and ideals.
When we create a character or identity to hide from our highest self in yoga, the energy of yoga has to pass first through the false form and all its webs, and then into our True Self. Why dilute when we can experience everything?
The judgment, , and standards other yogis will impose on you don’t exist. Sure, there may be a period of disorder inside your yoga practice and within your yoga circle. Those who love you will stand by your side and the haters will shut up once they see you are 100% committed.
At the end of that road, you will experience a sense of freedom and flow in yoga you never knew possible. All by just accepting yourself and yoga.