Feeling entirely overwhelmed by the meaningfulness of another talk by Krista Tippet, this time with Maria Shriver, a journalist and one of the Kennedy family, I decided to translate a tiny bit of that richness and wisdom into our yoga field.
First, let me share with you an excerpt from the talk:
MS. SHRIVER: So I had great decades; the last decade, I find that I’ve struggled quite a bit — to find my way, to find my identity again, to pick myself back up (…).
I think life is complicated, and life is difficult; and life is also great, and life is sad. It’s all of that, and all in one day; it can happen all in one day, and that that’s life and not to be scared of that and to know that that’s more normal than abnormal.
MS. TIPPETT: I just want to just repeat this, just to draw a line under it, this thing you’re saying that’s so important but we don’t say this out loud — that we are so skilled and trained, all of us, to be presentational. And we’re good at presenting. And this is what we get educated to do, is present. And now there are all these platforms for presentation, and yet it’s so true, as a woman, that there are women who look like they have it all, but if you get in close enough to any life, you see this. But it is debilitating, this presentational skill that we have.
I’ve listened to those words and I thought – here we are! That’s a trap in practicing yoga, too!
Here’s the news: we, yoga people tribe, may upload photos of how well we can present yoga poses, but it doesn’t change the fact that in its core, it’s practicing, not presenting that truly make a real, beneficial change. Everyone has physical and physiological limitations and it’s not about not having them, but to embrace them! Did you know that sometimes it’s a thickness of your cartilage around your bones that determine how deeply you can safely get into the posture? Forcing it against the pinching ache might result in a chronic pain or cartilage inflammation! You can’t reach your toes with your fingers? How could anybody, who would work in a sitting posture for over 20 years? If you want to stretch your tendons, you’d need to let them evolve at their natural pace! We all have our own stories, and some of them are written in our bodies – you come to yoga class to take care of them, not to push on them.
Quite unfortunately, yet still ubiquitously in our culture, the habit of presenting oneself as a main and only aim is strong and sometimes it overwhelms the noble motivations to come to a yoga class.
Haven’t we all been there, at least for a bit? Definitely I was – I can remember coming to a yoga class and feeling intimidated that I can’t reach with my hands far enough, or bend forward as deeply as someone sitting next to me, so I tried harder, which sometimes was ending up in hurting my knees or tendons. Over a time I’ve realized I’m missing a point here, but to get on the right track, I needed some support – and I’ve gained a lot of it during my Teacher Training Course.
I finally understood that my beauty is that my tendons have their limitations, and the purpose of training, that is sincerely satisfying for me, is to be truthful to myself, meaning I keep asking the question:
which variation of the pose is the most beneficial for me today? Finding the answer over and over again, that’s a quest, but that’s a treat, too!
I’ve heard countless times from people: „I’d love to go to a yoga class one day, but I’m not flexible enough/I know nothing about it/ I’m not (fill in with any problem) enough. But that’s the point – YOU ARE ENOUGH.
Practicing yoga is, or can be if we allow ourselves, a kind, thoughtful self-care practice. Personally, I believe that’s what true beauty is about – our perfect imperfections that are embraced and accepted! 🙂
Happy imperfect day! 😉
PS: If you’re interested in listening to the whole conversation I’ve mentioned in this post, click on this link.