So much of modern life seems to be about the external look.. with the increased focus on social media & how we look. Yoga is about the inside. Sometimes in a class I may instruct you to play, to feel into a posture, to breathe into a stretch. These are all ways a yoga teacher may try to verbalise the idea of not forcing. Not trying too hard…pushing, straining or finding your edge. Giving yourself the freedom to be your own beautiful individual self. Yoga postures are shapes, but it is not the external shape that is the yoga. It is the internal focus. The feeling not the doing. The being within not the external shape.
Yes, social media is full of skinny ex dancers & gymnasts making beautiful shapes, often in a bikini against a scenic backdrop. In the same way as we don’t do our yoga in intentionally revealing clothing, like they have. Or, unfortunately we are not always in beautiful scenery; our shapes do not look like theirs. Our forward bend will look different to another’s’…we have different tummies & thighs to move around as well as the muscle length & skeletal structure differences. Some people flop into a forward bend, some people hardly fold at all. Tightness in muscles, lifestyle choices, stresses & strains all make for very individual practices. Please do not look at other students & think that you should look like them.
After the last 18 months we are all in a different place to where we were pre lockdown. We may find social activities tire us more easily. Maybe workdays are full of anxiety as well as stress. Many months of trauma, uncertainty & hope leading to a current world where we still are not quite sure of ourselves. Maybe this is our opportunity to find our safe place on our yoga mat. Not by forcing, judging or being hard on ourselves. Instead let’s be soft inside, let us melt, soften, listen & breathe. We can be strong & soft. We can breathe into a balance & allow any wobbles to bring a smile of acceptance rather than a frown of self-judgement.
Other issues to be aware of are injuries & restrictions. Today, right now, some postures may not be suitable for us. Maybe a low lunge is not comfortable pressure on a knee, so we straighten the back leg instead into a high lunge. Maybe we are under pressure at work & it has tightened our hips or affected our balance. Do not push past pain, working hard is fine but pushing past pain is not. On these days where injury may mean your yoga needs adapting, please do not judge yourself harshly. Be kind to yourself. Notice, lengthen & smooth your breath. Soften your mind. Soften your judgement…now that is real yoga!!
It is so much NOT about what you look like but about how it makes you feel