When you’re first considering the yoga world and culture it’s easy to be put-off by seemingly impossible standards. In our Western World it appears you must be very fit and thin, probably white, probably female, vegan, with a propensity for growing wheatgrass on your kitchen window sill. And if you’re all of these things – that’s fantastic – but if you’re not – I’m here to tell you that THIS is not Yoga. These unrealistic standards are the result (yet again) of really effective marketing that has us buying really expensive yoga pants and buying into yet another culture that makes us feel “less than”. THIS is NOT Yoga.
Yoga has taught me to forgive my lack of perfection time and time again. First, it was on my mat where I struggled and judged and shamed myself for not being a thin, female, vegan. This was not working. As I dove deeper into Yoga Philosophy I learned that the greatest gift you can give yourself 0n and off your mat is Grace. This was not an easy process; but it did start on my mat when I forgave myself for not being perfect in a pose. Guess what? The world continued spinning and the sun still rose despite my admission that I was not perfect. Guess what else? My yoga became so rich and so personal the minute I let my body and my mind decide what it needed without shame or disgrace – only gentle acceptance and forgiveness.
Truth? I’m a pretty average 41 year old mother of two; I eat too much, swear too much, yell too much, my body is curvy (or “squishy” from my 6 year old’s perspective or “quite round” according to my 9 year old) ~ and all of these “imperfections” I forgive myself for and love myself in spite of them. Because the other truth? I am passionate, enthusiastic, creative and genuine AND my body is curvy (or god damn sexy according to my husband). And this is Yoga – celebrating the balance and accepting what is. I try my best – almost everyday – to improve, to go deeper (in my body AND my mind); some days I am better at this than others and that’s okay.
Trying to achieve “Perfection” in Yoga indeed steals the moments that Yoga can actually create. If we are too busy judging and criticizing ourselves we will never have those moments of bliss that can be achieved with yoga. Feeling anxiety when you’re trying to achieve relaxation? Will never result in relaxation and of course, will never result in perfection.
We are literally robbing ourselves of Joy and Contentment with this constant striving for perfection and the ironic thing is, when we really step back and think about it, it’s all an illusion and subject to serious questions of perspective. Your idea of perfection and my idea of perfection could be VERY different. So why let this be the standard we hold ourselves to? Striving for perfection is rooted in fear, fear of judgment, mistakes or maybe even fear of success – as we strive for perfection we make attaining success impossible.
I’ll confess, I had some reconcilliation to do when it came to letting go of my ideals of perfection…. if we’re not trying to be better than what are we trying to do? Enter Brene Brown – she so perfectly described the difference between striving for excellence vs. striving for perfection… She so eloquently describes this difference that I was able to see that trying to be better and do better should cultivate feelings of satisfaction, authenticity, joy and purpose. On the other hand:
So, you see, I’m not just looking to Yoga to guide me…. I’ll take whatever I can get! However, constantly investigating my path, living more in the moment, being kind to myself and others… you get the picture. THIS is Yoga. Perfectly Imperfect and so damn happy to finally be in this place!