One of the things I've found most challenging about, first, becoming a Yoga teacher and, second, opening a Yoga studio is knowing just how different I am from the stereotypical Yoga teacher or Yoga studio owner.
I've rarely met another Yoga teacher I didn't like or feel safe with, and yet often I really just feel like I don't quite live up to the standard.
Of course, that's silly, because what standard? And who is imposing that idea on me? The reality is - nobody. The soft little whisper of insecurity comes from inside myself. And so it is something that I constantly evaluate - and re-evaluate. Do I belong? Yes. Who says? I do.
Giving myself permission to do this Yoga thing differently has always been a journey for me. Some days I feel like a rebel warrior queen - forging my own path valiantly and with courage and fire. Other days, I feel mousy and small, wishing I "blended in". This is normal. Having stronger days and more insecure days. This is all part of the self acceptance path. It's not always going to feel easy or permanent. But I keep travelling it because to offer this healing approach to Yoga - one that intends to empower others - I need to keep showing up to do the work myself.
Recently, during a conversation with my wife, I started thinking about Urdhva Dhanurasana. Upward Facing Bow Pose. It's a crazy backbend. Here's a cute teddy bear doing the pose:
I've always had a bit of a block about this pose. The times I've tried I couldn't lift my shoulders or head more than (what felt like) inches away from the floor. And so I convinced myself that "I don't have the arm strength" for this pose and just chalked it up to yet another inaccessible classic Asana.
So during this conversation with Peggy, I was trying to show her how I would set up for the pose, were I to actually attempt it. And she came over and offered up some tips.
Now this is funny because Peggy doesn't really do a lot of Yoga - but her sister was a gymnast ages and ages ago... and she remembered this backbend and so she stood over me and I vaguely remember her touching my hips and saying some stuff about pushing forward or something as I tried to lift up...
And then BOOM. There the pose was! I was in it! I was so shocked that I brought myself back down and looked at her - mouth agape. "You lifted me up!"
But she looked at me and insisted "No I didn't!". What she'd done, was very lightly guide the direction of my movement, the way that I might do with a student in a Yoga class. I didn't quite believer her, to be honest, so we did it a few more times. I was too nervous to try it on my own just yet and I hadn't warmed up properly so it wasn't the best FEELING pose in that moment, and so I knew I had to stop for the day - but still!! I got up into it. Amazement! Jubilation! Excitement!
So, yesterday, while I was at the studio hosting Open Yoga (a span of time where students can come in and work on their personal practice with me there to offer alignment tips etc), I took advantage of some quiet time to do my own practice - one that would prep my body for Urdhva Dhanurasana.
When I got to the point in the practice to attempt the pose - on my own - I got out my smartphone and hit record, thinking that when I couldn't get up, I could watch the video to analyze my own alignment and see where my mistakes might be. (You see what I was doing there??).
This was the result:
Boom!!! There it was AGAIN. This time, on my own.
This is some crazy stuff, yo.
And the biggest lesson, in all of it - is about self-perceived limitations. As in, so many of the limitations we think we have - the things we "could never..." do sometimes are completely and totally within the realm of possibility - even likelihood, were we to open up to our own actual potential. And believe.
Instead of worrying about whether I fit in - I am committed to spending much more time being that Rebel Warrior Queen.
Look out world....