December 17, 2015

Yoga: Beyond the Stretching, Embracing the Bullsh*t.

Warning: Naughty language ahead! 


“I wouldn’t be a very good yogi,” he confessed to me, as if said title was completely unobtainable.

I almost laughed at the ridiculousness of his statement, refrained because his eyes held such seriousness.

Most people respond negatively to concepts they don’t understand. I relate with my relationship to snowboarding. Often, it’s easier to project disdain at an activity that invokes fear within you: fear of failure, looking stupid, fear of the general unknown.

My friend could never touch a yoga mat for the rest of his life, and he would remain the most yogic person I know.

You can be a yogi having never touched a mat. Without wearing a mala, or even, gasp, without wearing fancy, skin tight, see-through yoga pants.

Truthfulness, sincerity, integrity, love, patience and compassion can be discovered through asana, but also through meditation, pranayama (breath dimension), energy or chakra healing, or kriyas (cleansing).

How you contort your body makes you no better or worse at living, at being human.

If you can pick your nose with your toes, it doesn’t make you more fucking spiritual or closer to enlightenment (I wish it did, because that means my nephews and I would be there).

Lululemon won’t help you find what you’re searching for. There is a reason after a class we crave another; we chase that peace, we don’t realize we are falling in love with “moving meditation.”

The assumption is that somehow if you position your muscles and bones a certain way, spirituality follows.

The “weird” stuff outside of stretching scares a lot of people.

My ego was put in check the other day when my friend commented on his waning desire to attend a yoga class.

“I wish it was more about stretching, and less of all that bullshit,” he proclaimed.

The little ego inside my brain jerked her head at me exasperated and distraught, “Are you going to let him say that shit?” I mean, that “bullshit,” the crystals, singing bowls, breath work, motivational pep-talk is the best part!

Suddenly and unwelcome, as memories often do arise, my first exposure to yoga reverberated through the projector of my brain. I recall judging the Aum chanting inside the studio as the closest thing to a cult I’d ever witnessed.

The first time an instructor asked me to do Lion’s Breath she might as well have asked me to commit murder.

I used to roll my eyes when someone asked me to set an intention for my practice; I was intent on not passing out during the hot class or letting one rip.

The reason these moments used to irk me?

They set me out of my comfort zone. My wonderful zone that kept my ego and ideals safe from being altered or changed.

You see, in yoga, hell, any activity in the world, you have to give into the bullshit a little. You have to set your guard down.

I felt like a complete idiot the first time I chanted the Ganesh mantra during a Hatha class.

You have to let yourself “look stupid.” You have to let yourself go. That’s where the change happens. 

It’s relatable to the “stretching” part of yoga as well. You’re not more “yogic” if you’re more flexible than the person next to you. You’re not less “yogic” if your expression of a pose doesn’t look like Mr. Iyengar’s expression. I wish people could understand that Instagram photos will not bring you enlightenment.

Being “yogic” encompasses a variety of qualities, characteristics and activity that happen beyond your mat. You could never touch your toes one day in your life, and you could be a yogi.

We worry so much about what we look like during our practice, that we miss the ability to grow. We deny the bullshit, instead of getting messy with it.

After awhile, you realize, that not everyone in the class is looking at you, they are dealing with their own shit. It’s humbling, because you realize it’s not all about you.

You don’t need validation from the teacher, the other students, on whether you looked okay, did something right, etc. You just need validation from yourself.

If you can break out of your comfort zone, dance with the bullshit, per-say, you can start to translate that into your everyday life. Once you’re not afraid to try new things or mess up, a million things fall into your lap.

Loosen up. Fart during a yoga class. Get wild during Lions Breath.

When we label ourselves, our actions, we limit ourselves actually. “I’m shy.” “I’m put together.” “I’m eccentric.” While these labels could be associated as “good” or “bad” characteristics, the thing is, it stops us from exploring the polar opposite, the other end of that label.

By labeling yourself as “outgoing,” are you denying yourself the capability to be silent? By labeling yourself as “nice,” are you limiting yourself to be fierce?

Am I saying believe everything everyone tells you and fall for all the bullshit? No. I’m saying be open to being weird and, just maybe, discovering something out of this world that you might like.



Relephant Read:

My Weird New, Beautiful Yoga Practice Trademarked By Nobody.

Author: Elizabeth Brumfield

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Flickr

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