And live green, eat kale, wear tights, and be calm?
Turning upside down is just your everyday thing;
Making sure you look hot on the beach in a string bikini.
No, I’m kidding. I can’t do that, and I certainly don’t look like that in a bathing suit. In fact, not a lot of people do. I guess that’s why pictures like this are so popular. Similar to pictures in beauty or fitness magazines, it’s supposed to inspire people and give them something to strive for…right?
Or do they make a person feel incompetent and intimated? It’s impressive, yes, but is this really yoga?
Let me tell you what yoga means to me: It’s not about what you look like, whatsoever. And yoga is for everyone - all different sizes, shapes and styles. It’s not a fancy headstand in a bikini on a beach and it’s certainly not a fitness or beauty competition.
Don’t get wrong - there’s nothing wrong with these pictures of beautiful people who can do really advanced poses and look great in a bathing suit. I’m not here to judge them or say they’re doing anything wrong. It just seems like the ‘yoga industry’ is becoming inundated with them and because of this, it can make yoga seem to be overwhelming and intimidating, and therefore unappealing, to a large population of people.
I think a lot of people have the impression that a perfect, bendy body in a bikini doing a fancy headstand IS what yoga is all about. How many times have you heard (or said):
“I can’t do yoga. I'm not flexible enough.”
“I won’t fit in.”
“I don’t own any Lululemon.”
I’ve heard all of these things and more about why people won’t go to a yoga class, and my heart sinks a little bit each time. And to be honest, as a new teacher in the industry, all of these fancy, perfect pictures are starting to get me a little bit me too - which is why I’m sharing this:
I remember something my yoga instructor, Lyle Anderson, said to me once: Just because someone is doing an impressive pose, it doesn’t mean they’re doing yoga.
So what does that mean exactly?
Yoga isn’t about what you look like. It’s a practice that comes from within to unite the mind, body and spirit. It’s about creating balance – both on and off the mat. Of course the more you practise, the stronger a person becomes, physically. But yoga is supposed to challenge you internally, too. And it’s about you, no one else.
Think about it this way:
You see a photo of a person bending over backwards and kicking their legs up in the air, but they’re driven by their ego and doing it to show off or impress others. And then there’s another person simply sitting cross legged on the floor, giving thanks for every breath and sitting still with a clear mind – now who is really practising yoga?
Of course, it's simply too hard to tell by looking at a picture if a person is really “practicing yoga” or not, and I’m not trying to pick on gorgeous people who are strong and confident. I just want to see and share more diversity, and help people feel more comfortable with the idea of yoga.
If there’s one thing about yoga that I can share with you, it’s this: Ahimsa. Ahimsa means nonviolence or harm. Try to practice this in your everyday life, with others and with yourself, and just like that – you’re doing yoga.
In my practice and in the classes that I teach, yoga is about taking the time to learn how to love yourself. You’re not there to judge others and what they look like, including what they’re wearing or how flexible they are, and they’re not there to judge you either. And no one is there to feel intimidated because they can’t bend a certain way or stand on their hands.
I want to get away from comparing myself and others to so many fancy poses and get real.
I encourage you to look inside yourself and decide what yoga means to you, if anything at all. Don’t look at these fancy, beautiful people doing crazy poses, and don’t look at the average, normal looking person doing what appears to be half-assed poses, either.
Just look at yourself, and be inspired by all.
Know that you’re better than the person you were yesterday.
Keep working on it.
Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t judge.
Be happy with whom you are and what you’ve got, and just do your best.
...And just like that - you're doing yoga.
“If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and the internal dialogue. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three things the ego is doing all the time. It's very important to be aware of them every time they come up.” ~ Deepak Chopra
Be a yogi superstar.