You know… being yourself can feel like the hardest thing ever!
Not that I’m *cough* speaking from personal experience or anything. *cough*
For real, though. I know we’ve probably all been there, but I’ve really been noticing this as I’ve stepped more and more fully into the role of a Teacher.
And yet ome of the things I enjoy most about teaching Yoga are so enjoyable precisely because of who I am! After all, it is because I have such passion for the transformative power of Yoga when it comes to body image and self-acceptance and self-esteem that I love teaching it so much. It is because I have lived through so many years of pretty much hating my own body that I can talk about body-love from a truly authentic place. And it is my playful little kid trapped in a grown-up’s body personality that lets me have fun and bring innocence and simplicity to this practice that sometimes takes itself too seriously.
But I still deal with all the same fears that most of us face when we put ourselves out there in the world, particularly when we're putting ourselves out there exactly as ourselves.
What if some people don’t like me or my style of teaching?
What if they don’t take me seriously as a fat yoga teacher?
What if, even after joining a class of like-minded and like-bodied people, some people still don’t think Yoga is for them? Does that mean I've failed?
And then there’s the age-old advice that we’ve all heard a million times: “You can’t please everyone.”
Okay, so it’s true. I can’t please everyone. I mean, logically, I really do understand that. But what I teach really IS who I am. So it’s not always easy to remember that when people don’t dig it, that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me OR what I teach. The truth is, that I am who I am and there will be those that enjoy and appreciate and get something out of what I have to offer and there will be those that don’t. However, for me, it takes conscious effort to stay courageous about remaining true to myself and my message when faced with naysayers.
And then something, like this quote, brings it into sharp, crystal-clear, focus. Not only is it essential to my teaching to be authentically me, but it is my absolute privilege as a human being on this planet to be myself.
When I think about it like that, suddenly it doesn’t feel so hard to stay true to my authentic self and my perspective and this path. In fact, it feels like the greatest gift ever.
So to those that will resonate with what I bring to the table as a Teacher, I commit to you that we will walk this path together and in the process, find the love and gratitude and joy in each moment of it - even when it challenges us.
Let's do it!
Lately, circumstances have offered me significant opportunities to do what I have committed to do: listen to my body. And WOW - what a difference it makes when I do! In fact, the more that I give myself permission to honour myself, my body, and what I need in my yoga practice, the easier it becomes.
It may seem surprising, but when I find where my "edge" is, and back off just slightly - to say 90-95%, I find what is essentially the sweet spot. And it is sweet. Maybe my back knee is down instead of up in the low lunge that everyone is doing, and maybe I'm using a strap to pull my knee in tighter to my chest during a hip opener. No matter what the action is, or how different it looks from what everyone else in the class is doing - I find MORE expansiveness, MORE freedom, and MORE buoyancy in my body following the practice where I've been true to myself. I come away from each series of postures feeling stronger and more confident. This is what I have always done in my personal practice, I suppose I just needed to remind myself that being in a class doesn't change the fact that this is still my personal practice. That's what I tell anyone else - so I needed to give myself a little nudge to get back on track with walking the talk.
This IS the Yoga that I want to teach. This is what I want to share with people. Doing something different from others isn't always about laziness or avoiding something difficult. It can and should be about learning to listen to your body and doing what is right for you IN THIS MOMENT. Some days, you might lift easily into that back bend while holding your own weight up - and other days you might need to slip some blankets, a brick, or a bolster underneath you to support the opening you seek. What we really need to do is understand that just like our hearts, and our minds - our bodies needs vary from moment to moment.
Do you crave the exact same foods every day? Do you crave the exact same conversations? Of course not. Humans are a species of wild diversity and so doesn't it make sense that this diversity and craving for different and varied experiences would be present in our bodies as well?
Now, each time I come to the mat, I promise myself that today, I will act upon what my body needs without judgement, but with gratitude. My practice is just one of the ways I can honour the amazing gift of this body that allows me to do and experience so many wonderful things, and so I'm doing just that.
How about you