I was mooching around the internet last week, just generally looking at yoga stuff and I saw a picture of a yoga pose; one of those yoga pictures with a perfectly formed, young, attractive body in an advanced posture, and when I clicked onto the site it had come from I was taken to the blog of an anorexic lady, with lots of posts expressing self hate, self loathing and even a few about self harming. I felt a huge amount of compassion towards this person who appears to be in a very dark place, and I do really hope that she does get to a yoga and/or meditation class with an experienced yoga teacher who can help her on the path to self acceptance and in time maybe even a place where she can learn to understand that she does deserve love and is beautiful.
What occurred to me after (and I looked at a lot more links from pictures of these beautiful, advanced yoga postures with young, attractive, slim people) was how many people out there are striving to be the image the media and modern western culture is holding up as perfection, and how far this representation is of what yoga really means. I saw images of yoga postures with slogans attached to them about striving to be the best, to be slim, to be more competitive, to be more than you are today; it was represented as a fitness practice – something people do to make themselves something else….and I felt sad. Why??
For me, yoga is totally not about being competitive; it is about self acceptance, a feeling of being connected and alive, being completely joined with the present, enjoying the here and now, experiencing this moment totally….whatever it is presenting to me. For me yoga is not something that I do, it is something that I am……it is my breath, my body, my feelings, my total experience (whether it be happy, sad, painful, pleasurable, etc) in this moment and so much more.
Yes; it also helps me to move beyond my current limitations, but with patience and with compassion for myself, without the feeling that I am not good enough now and need to be something else – something more; instead just with the ongoing experience of being with my body and breath I move beyond my past limitations and, yes, there are days when things are different in my body, but with a connection with yoga I see them now only as “different”, and I can see things as they are instead of judging my body, things, people, experiences as “worse” or “better”.
I have been in some dark places during my own life and I know intimately some of these feelings of self loathing, feelings of lack of self worth, grief, pain, separation and sorrow that I saw reflected in many people’s blogs and websites and I hope, with all my heart, that anyone out there who feels inadequate, ashamed, hurt and unloved will find a way to know that they can be happy, they can experience peace, stability and love. And to anyone who is reading this and feels in a dark place right now: please try yoga and/or a meditation, preferably with an experienced teacher who can demonstrate and guide you beyond just the physical exercises, it may not be an overnight fix, but with the right guidance it really can change your experience of life for the better.