In the beginning
When I first started practicing yoga, and for many years subsequently, I believed that to ‘really’ do yoga you needed to be flexible. Thousands if not millions of people worldwide hold or have held that same belief. Spoiler alert! You do not need to be flexible to do yoga.
At school I was sporty, but the closest I ever got to anything resembling gymnastics was a forward roll, and dancing was definitely not something I would entertain. I was massively uncomfortable with my body so anything that involved presenting what I looked like was no-go territory. These feelings stayed with me well into my late-20s and even though by then I was practicing yoga regularly, I still believed I was an imposter in all the classes I attend. Yoga wasn’t for people like me.
I was wrong
My assumptions and misconceptions about what yoga was supposed to look and feel like were a big barrier and one of the many ways I would put myself down. I assumed you had to be able to contort yourself into photograph-worthy shapes with a serene look on your face and a subtle smile that said ‘I’m so happy and my life is perfect’. I am very pleased to admit I was wrong.
Yoga can be beautiful and serene, but it can also be messy, uncomfortable and unapologetically unphotogenic. To me, yoga is no longer about what I look like or think I should look like*, it’s an internal experience that is different every single time I practice. Sometimes it leaves me energised and empowered, sometimes I feel emotional or vulnerable, sometimes I get hot, sweaty, and tired. Sometimes I get frustrated. Sometimes I’m left wanting, but rarely have I felt bored.
I’m not exactly sure when the voice started asking the question, but at some point I started to wonder how I could learn more about yoga. Attending classes was part of my weekly routine, but somehow it just wasn’t enough. The voice was barely a whisper to start with, but it was persistent, and the volume increased with time. I would tell it to be quiet, but it was stubborn. I began Googling opportunities and the only thing that seemed to hold any merit was to attend a yoga teacher training. STOP RIGHT THERE! I told myself. There’s no danger you could be a yoga teacher, you can’t even sit in lotus pose!
To be continued…
*nearly all of the time, old habits die hard!