It is so easy to get caught up in outward appearances. I recently watched the popular yogi Kathryn Budig work her way with ease through an advanced yoga sequence. It made me regret that I had not started practicing yoga earlier in my life, and I wondered what I could have been able to do if I had. Over time, however, I’ve realized that it’s not about becoming perfect, but about becoming ok with being perfectly imperfect.
There Is No Such Thing As A “Yoga Body”
I had to remind myself that everything comes in the right timing, and that there is no such thing as a “yoga body.” Because every body is different, the same yoga pose differs between everyone that is doing it!
When I first saw the picture above, my eyes immediately focused on my uneven stance. The tape recorder in my head went into overdrive. “I’m off, leaning forward. Gosh, I can’t even ‘do’ Goddess Pose right. No way can I use this picture. After all, what will people think?”
What Is The “Perfectly Imperfect” Pose?
I was hours into this photo shoot and my legs were tired and weary. This caused me to struggle even more with this pose, along with a case of scoliosis and a slight internal right hip rotation. Both of these issues have been helped by my yoga practice, but they’re still a part of who I am. Even still, it was hard to look at this picture and know that I was not doing Goddess Pose in the way I would like to be.
We are not meant to craft tightly edited versions of ourselves so that we might feel like we are enough. We are enough.
And then I thought about all those times I tell my students that it doesn’t matter what your body looks like in a pose. What matters is that you find and explore your edge, wherever that edge is for you, and that you are ok with it. This, I say, is the perfect pose for you.
Do Unto Ourselves …
I felt like a hypocrite, a fraud in a moment of realization. Why did I hold myself to a higher standard? Why could I not give myself the grace and compassion I give others? Every person is at different places in his or her body, and the secret is about being ok with wherever that is in the present moment.
In that “light bulb” moment I knew I needed to let go of this picture, my judgmental thoughts, and the fear of not being good enough. I needed to meet myself where I am unapologetically, and to love my perfectly imperfect self unconditionally.
Through that letting go and acceptance, I might light the path for others to do the same. Untold stories and negative thoughts can turn inward like a sword to pierce our spirit. To be completely free, you must tell your story and let go of hurtful thoughts and judgments.
Looking Past The Obvious: Into The Deepest Parts Of Ourselves
The absolute truth is that there is no “better” in yoga. The point is to meet yourself where you are with love, acceptance, and understanding. Sometimes you need to look closely at yourself in the mirror and give it some time to see deeper than the skin, deeper than the scars, and deeper than the wrinkles and the wear and tear of a life that has been lived.
There is a sacred quality to all bodies, including my own. I am reminded that I live within my body, and with embodiment there is connection.
Having lived through breast cancer, two emergency C-sections and a host of other injuries on which the tales of tougher times are apparent, these scars are truly invisible to most people but readily visible to me. I think that is why it is so hard.
It is too easy to judge ourselves so much harder and deeper than we would judge others. We hold ourselves to unrealistic standards that make us want to hide ourselves from the world. Yoga is also about truth, and the truth is: “this is who I am, perfectly imperfect. ” There is a sacred quality to all bodies, including my own. I am reminded that I live within my body, and with embodiment there is connection.
You Are Enough
You are not meant to craft tightly edited versions of your self. Self-love must be a daily commitment. Respect and compassion for yourself and others begins anew every day with an open heart, nurturing self-love, and acceptance. YOU are always enough.
My body holds my experience and my history. I am real and my body is real. This is part of me–part of my offering–my perfectly imperfect offering, from a life that has been lived and that continues to be lived a bit more fully every day–thanks to my yoga practice.
Photos: Becca Katzman