You may heard about the perfect yoga teacher delivering her eight children without pain, follow her vegan diet of moral perfectionism on Instagram or maybe you met her last week in Hell. The last part is a joke, of course, because last week she was glamping in the woods with orphans, monks and the stars of Wanderlust.
The truth is the idea of the flawless yoga guru/yoga teacher serves no one. It is in our flaws that we are most human and yoga is a way of meeting ourselves so we can get through life’s hiccups: not pretend they don’t exist at all.
You don’t have to look far to see the astonishing history of gurus sexually and financially exploiting yoga practitioners to realize how the idea of the perfect teacher actually is a block to finding your own truths and yoga’s ability to help seek them.
JP Sears hilarious video on becoming an expert yoga teacher shows the human side of teaching yoga and helps take teachers off the pedestal our image-driven culture helps ascribe to them. Rachel Myer’s beautiful tribute to the late yoga teacher Michael Stone raises excellent points about the dangers of yoga’s cult of positivity and how our tendency to seek out the perfect teacher hurts everyone especially when there is a stigma to a yoga teacher recognizing and therefore covering their own struggles.
So, next time you see your yoga teacher in class realize we are one in the same. There is a popular Hindu mantra in yoga, Soham, that translates into ‘I am That.’ When you find yourself needing more compassion it can be helpful to repeat it when you see marvel, or, when finding yourself messing up in a pose look to your teacher, smile, and repeat in your head: I am That.
Thank you for reading my post. I hope you have a marvelously imperfect day.
- If you picked up the latest copy of Yoga Journal and didn’t know better you might think yoga as merely a means of advertising high-end clothes for skinny women. While most of us go to yoga to move inward and let go of physical/material constraints the business of yoga is very different than the historical origins and why most practitioners turn to the mat.
The danger in seeing one type of body as the ‘yoga body type’ is that it limits who sees themselves as yogis, causes unnecessary judgement/suffering and brings even more attention to the physical form vs. allowing that energy to help transform us from within.
However, modern yogis like Jessamyn Stanley are beautifully expanding what it means to represent, love and practice yoga. By bolding showing herself in her magnificent curves, Jessamyn Stanley helps all yoga practitioners and teachers feel a little more comfortable in ourselves.
How do you define the relationship between loving your body and practicing yoga? Is the physical practice your end goal or do you turn to yoga for other intentions?
Even mainstream publications like The Atlantic are questioning the materialistic hold brands like Lululemon have over the psychology of what it means to practice and love this ancient art and the idea that wearing certain workout clothes actually results in working out better or doing so with more consistency.
When we use yoga as a means of knowing ourselves and accepting who we are in the moment it makes leaving preconceptions about what we are supposed to be or look like behind.
“Self-compassion is like a muscle. The more we practice flexing it, especially when life doesn’t go exactly according to plan (a frequent scenario for most of us), the stronger and more resilient our compassion muscle becomes.”
― Sharon Salzberg
Thank you for reading my post, and have a great day.