During my Beginners Yoga Workshop: reset + revive last Sunday, we discussed what a true Yoga practice looks like and I thought I would share with you some of my thoughts and experience on this subject.
I'm increasingly becoming more passionate about having freedom in your Yoga practice and breaking away from how it's advertised or displayed. Some of the Yoga that we see on Youtube or Instagram is very polished, it's carefully angled and presents us with a highly edited version of what a Yoga practice looks like.
The standard is set high with Yogis contorting into back bends whilst balancing on their hands and wearing expensive activewear. If this is what we are associating with Yoga, it can lead to disappointment when attempting a Warrior 2 and feeling like your going to fall over any second!
It doesn't exactly motivate us to do Yoga, or perhaps it does and then the reality sets in that Yoga postures can be hard work (yes, there's effort involved), Downward Facing Dog isn't a basic pose after all and attempting a complex Vinyasa flow from Instagram can result in throwing your back out for a week.
I've been there. I tried really hard to fit the mold, going to great lengths and through physical pain to capture beautiful images. I changed my hair, watched what I ate and injured myself on several occasions. On the other hand, when I would teach and what I practiced at home, without a camera being around, was all me.
I woke up one day to the fact that the small piece of me captured did not reflect my true experiences or teachings.
My dedication wasn't to Yoga at that point and I had a lot of meditating to do on this. When I was looking at women and men on Instagram doing Yoga, looking flawless and there abilities matched to Cirque du Soleil; I felt down. I would heavily criticize myself for not being able to do what they can do and would wonder if I should just give up Yoga altogether.
If I'm feeling that way, is there someone in the world feeling that way too by looking at my account?
So I switched my focus back to the time when social media wasn't around; back when I did Yoga because I was hungry to learn more and it felt good, no matter how I looked. I took a break from filming and taking photos for the sake of social media and instantly felt better.
I realized all of this was stunting my personal development and love for Yoga. If you're worrying so much about what you look like when you're doing Yoga (or doing anything!), you're not fully immersed in the experience and all the fun is taken away.
I gained a lot from this experience and when I see an advert for active wear or Yoga, I no longer dip into the cycle of self-loathing and simply appreciate their talent.
No account or advert I'm sure is intended to make a person feel bad about themselves but if you do find yourself feeling that way, avoid the accounts that make you feel less worthy and remember Yoga has been around many more years than when yoga hashtags were even thought of.
Yoga isn't just about postures, that's just one of it's 8 limbs. It is a practice to be lived, explored and experienced through self observance, improvement and awareness. It embraces you no matter what your abilities, age, gender, race, limitations or your past. Thankfully, there are many styles of Yoga that suit many body types and personalities, and each one of them holds value. All you need is an open mind and a willingness to continue learning.
Whether you are at work, the gym, in a lift, in your pyjamas – go for it!
Enjoy making the practice work for you and your needs, at any time in your life.