Tat Tvam Asi - That thou art, That art thou.
WE CANNOT SEPARATE OURSELVES FROM THE WHOLE
So many Yoga therapy students come to me because they feel threatened and uncomfortable in a general studio environment. They are being called to a yoga, some, even for many years before coming to see me in a private or semi private setting. So many of these students contemplating yoga, but out of fear that they are not enough; not slim enough, not flexible enough they avoid stepping into this life altering practice. They fear judgement and inadequacy in a studio group situation, and don't want to feel embarrassed about who they are and where they are at. So they stay away from what it is they desire, feeling disconnected and detached.
Media and some, but not all, Yoga Studios advertise the ideal body, dressed in designer yoga clothes, in the most advance pose. (In many cases poses which many experienced yoga teachers cannot even fathom doing). Which makes a beautiful eye catching picture, but in many ways misinforms and intimidates the average person wanting to practice yoga for the first time. This way of advertising also allows people to regard yoga through glasses of misperception. It sells yoga as a purely physical practice when yoga is a tool that works on us from the inside out. Vanity sells but In the case of yoga, it keeps many yearning souls from making a step towards self enrichment and self empowerment. They question their ability, their physical appearance and flexibility, based on the pseudo factors they have come to know. They end up convincing themselves that they don't belong, when in fact everyone belongs to Yoga.
I have been in so many Yoga classes when I watch people wrench on their body to go deeper into a pose, or go into a posture that their body has yet to become accustom to in a safe way. It becomes the battle of egos, a crusade of physical flexibility and outwards appearance. So much passion all directed outwards when in yoga, the practice is about surrender and turning inwards to re-connect with our innocence, integrity and boundless self. With struggle, injuries happen, people get discouraged and there becomes a certain amount of aggression and competition which starts to create distance between the individual and the nature of the practice. The union "which means yoga" is far stretched along with the sense of belonging is hacked by strain and distress inflicted on the body and mind. We become further away self and move into our head about how, who and what we should be, and completely dismiss who we are. We become dissatisfied with our individuality and exhaust ourselves trying to be an idea we have fixed our unsteady minds on.
I used to think that as a yoga teacher I needed to do every pose, contorting and deceiving my own inner voice to meet these unwritten expectations. This cumulative conditioning that there is some ideal yoga teacher, with a perfect body and showy unblemished postures. Allowing self imposed and superficial expectations to cloud my truth, to apprehend my self esteem, my confidence and manipulate me into a place of self doubt. My self affirmation always in disarray, and even questioning if I was good enough to be a yoga teacher. Always disturbing my natural state of being, trying to be the best at the posture, instead of succumbing to the comfortable seat and relaxed state of Asana. Not nurturing my body and allowing it to adapt with time. Instead, taking myself through practice of self imposed disillusion and defeat, thirsting for more then who I was. Longing to be better. Believing that I had to be more, always more...slipping further away from the inner peace I desired, and what I knew in my heart to be truth.
It's not just students, or just yoga teachers that go through times feeling substandard, lacking conviction or feeling divided from perception of belonging. It is all of us, that sometimes feel like we are not part of the whole. It is all of us, even those who we compare ourselves to, and assume they have it all figured out. We all struggle at times to fit in, and we all have moments of self doubt. Perhaps we have all questioned if we are enough.
We are all longing for love, peace and happiness and somehow we like to take on these unproductive ways of self sabotage, that keep us from our greatness and inner harmony. This makes me entirely sad, but it also strengthens my passion to teach people the practice that will lead them to oneself. The gift that sparks the fuel to attain freedom from all any moulds, and past and present conditioning. It is the practice of yoga that brings us to this reality and paramount conclusion that all we seek is inside of us.
I have learned that I am not able to teach an all inclusive class, if I, myself feel superior or inferior in any way. I have learned that there is no me and them, that there is only us. A group of individuals coming together in love and life to practice yoga. Yoga teachers are not capable of teaching in a non competitive, non judgemental environment unless they themselves have dropped their own competitive edge and put their ego in its place. We cannot create an inviting space if we don't remove ourselves from the stage of ego and become one with the students, and furthermore humanity. We are all teachers and we are all students. An open teacher grows from the experience of the student, and the student grows from the invitation of the teacher. There is no right way to be, THE WAY is different for each individual. We all come in different shapes and sizes with completely different body structures. What one can do effortlessly, is not obtainable for another. Is it even possible for one to be like the other? We have to understand that we are all meant for grandeur after we set ourselves free from nonsense and embrace our genuineness.
It is then, that teachers can create a space that students can disembark on their own inward journey feeling accepted, confident and at ease. It is then, that we, as individuals can arrive to a situation, or a new experience feeling undiminished and connected. When we finally free ourselves from the shackles of conditioning we do find peace, and eventually embody it, becoming unwavering and stable in all situations. It is when we establish that our uniqueness is our greatest asset that we enter the practice state of yoga.
Through all the years of a devoted practice I have learned that I am completely imperfect, and with that realization I have grown to learn to love and accept myself for who I am, imperfections and all. (It is always a work in progress) I have learned that there is no ideal yoga teacher, no paradigmatic body, and no flawless poses. This is just an idea, and those of us who buy into it are as guilty as those who impose it. We allow our minds to eat the truth out of our souls and take us away from the substance of who we are. Who we are is our ultimate power, why not step into it. We must stop buying into the ideals created by society and by ourselves, we need to stop comparing ourselves to others, stop trying to outdo others, stop trying to be like others, and above all stop selling ourselves short. Stop being our own road block, our own enemy. It is most proactive to be ourselves without reservations, without hesitation.
Yoga is about forgiveness, compassion and unification. We cannot be in union with others or with self, if we have not yet cultivated that we are perfect among our imperfections. Yoga is patient and wise. It's always there waiting for us, no matter how far we wander or how lost we get, it always waits for us to catch a glimpse of its transformational powers. Yoga has no ego, it doesn't care what you wear, it is a light that shines without reasons or excuses. When we finally recognize, understand fully the practice, we realize, we surrender, and we drop all the garbage that holds us back. Only awakening us to a deep profound transformation that comes from the inside. The soul is where our true beauty lies, it is the womb of of who we are. When we actualize this, we drop out of ego and rise into our fullest power, and grasp that we are complete.
This is why we keep coming back to yoga, it is to set ourselves free from the fluctuations of the mind. Free ourselves from insecurities and all that hold us back.
Wherever you are, whoever you are...keep coming back to your yoga practice. Step forward on the path and live by example. If at first your insecurities and doubt keep you from the immensity of who you are, just keep coming back to Yoga. Keep arriving even when you fear. Everything we pursue on the outside is right here...inside us. Your practice will be what will set you free...it will move you from the wavering mind mind to settled heart. It is the yoking of the mind, body and spirit that unveils the limitless capacity ones self.
"Chitta Vritti Nirodha," (stilling the fluctuations of the mind.) This is yoga, this is your practice. In time with commitment it becomes ones nature to be at peace within themselves.
Just be yourself. Know that you are enough, and all you are looking for is right there inside of you. When you legitimately know this, and unquestionably realize this is your end and your beginning...wherever you go, you will create a space of love and connection just because it is who you are.
Seek no more.
Tat Tvam Asi
Teachings from the heart