We have all seen the pictures on Instagram and other social media platforms – perfect yogi bodies, in the perfect lighting, with appropriate shadows, striking a stunning pose. Hell, I’m guilty of setting up a picture and then waiting for the “Likes” to start rolling in. These posts often include either a scripture reference explaining why THAT pose is important or how that pose makes the yogi feel.
But we’re missing out on our flaws. I have been concerned that non-yogis will either think these advanced asanas are easy to do and thereby risk injury. Or they get completely turned off by the perfect form, thinking they’ll never achieve that level of posture. It can be intimidating to walk into a classroom and see students in a beautiful expression of forward folding – back straight, legs strong, chest on thighs. I was working with a student standing on one leg in tree pose; her breath and energy were vivid reflections with her frustrations on not being able to stand easily on that leg. I walked behind her, activated my feet, slowed my own breathing, and lightly touched her shoulders. I asked her “Why do you care so much? Because I don’t.” Immediately her energy changed. Her breath slowed. And the tension she was allowing to build in her shoulders began to subside.
Why do we care so much? Yoga is supposed to be peaceful and healing. But rather, we’re making it about image. Do not misunderstand, I think there’s a time and a place for projecting an image of “perfect form,” but the world is also aching for honesty.
Ana Forrest called me out time and again on my push for perfection in my practice. I struggle daily with my mind dropping into old habits of critiques, judgement, and frustration when my forearm balance looks and feels accidental. But I’m beginning to catch my mind in these moments and tell it “who cares?” This is my practice today and it’s further along than it was yesterday but maybe not as far as tomorrow. So who cares?
As a yogi on Instagram, I’m going to start with myself…and knowingly and willingly post pictures of me that are not the best form, with horrendous lighting, and possibly a bulldog in the background wishing I’d let him nap. Since #stopanddropyoga is a thing, I’ll challenge yogis to hopefully read this blog and to post a #perfectlyimperfect photo.