It’s true. I recently shouted on Facebook. I used the word “sheesh” which, I’m pretty sure isn’t in the dictionary of calm, mindful speech. Here’s what prompted it:
Heading out of my driveway to an appointment, I stopped to talk with a neighbor who was out walking his dog. My neighbor asked me if I was headed out to teach a class. And then he said, “I really should try yoga. I am so stiff. I need it.” And then…
“I’m just so bad at it.”
Sheesh! Aaack! Listen to me!
It. Is. Impossible. To. Be. Bad. At. Yoga.
I know, I know. We all see pictures in magazines, Facebook, Twitter, everywhere we look, of people twisting themselves into pretzels. And, for some of us, there’s an unspoken message that we have to be able to mimic those postures. Not true.
Here’s the deal. Simply, yoga means “to yoke.” To bring our minds and bodies together. I’m no yogic scholar, but nothing I’ve seen or read says yoga means you have to be able to stick your foot in your ear and pull it out your nostril. Different people will give you different interpretations of what yoga is. For me, it’s a way to go deep inside to the place where I can clear all the nonsense from my head and just be quiet with myself. I get there by focusing on my breath and flowing through different postures as I inhale and exhale. While I flow, while I breathe, I learn lessons that translate to things happening to me off my yoga mat.
For example, there’s a strong correlation to the feeling I get when I’m wobbling in Revolved Crescent Lunge and the feeling I get when I haven’t done as well as I’d have liked on a project at work. In each case, it’s about not wanting to fail. When I fight the wobble, I end up filling my head with all sorts of negative messages. (Like, “I’m bad at Revolved Crescent Lunge.”) If, on the other hand, I accept the wobble for what it is, I can stay present in the moment and feel calmer and more satisfied. Hmmm…
See how it works? It’s not really about how my body executed the Revolved Crescent Lunge. It’s about how I react to the posture. It’s about how willing I am to accept myself as I am. So, if you tell me you’re bad at yoga, I don’t believe you. If you tell me you tend to be self-critical, well, that I might believe. And then I’ll invite you to join me for a practice. We can wobble together and maybe even learn some stuff.
Just for today, I encourage you (and myself) to embrace the wobbly parts of life. Accept them as part of who we are – without judgment, without criticism. Believe that you’re not bad at yoga. Believe that you’re awesome. Even if you can’t stick your foot in your ear and pull it out your nose.