A few months ago, my friend (who happens to be a photographer) offered to take pictures of me doing yoga, as a thank you for a couple weekends I watched her dog. I was surprised, mostly because I always considered her letting me dog sit as more of a favor for me. I figured sure, a yoga photo shoot sounds fun! Upon actually seeing the pictures, a different story came up.
Yoga was my first meaningful experience of not needing to look good. Discovering how to tap into the physical practice in my body has been and continues to be revolutionary for me. I love not practicing in front of a mirror for this very reason. As soon as I saw pictures of how I looked in the poses, I fell back to that hyper-critical mode of what I could be doing differently to make it “better”.
Playing that story over in my head set off a siren. Whoa there – what happened to accepting my practice just as it is, today? I realized it is time to practice what I preach, and give myself some loving acknowledgment right where I am.
When it came to actually using the photos Katharine had taken, that opened a whole other can of worms. I have never been super comfortable as the center of attention; broadcasting just isn’t my style. However, the discomfort that arose caused me to pay closer attention. Because I have found over and over again that the thing that makes me the most uncomfortable is usually exactly what I should be doing. Case in point: this site. Writing these posts and creating this page has been a continuous practice in waking up and extending beyond my comfort zone.
So in the spirit of recognizing and loving the fact that I am a perfectly imperfect human, practicing yoga (no matter how it looks), and in gratitude for Katharine (her work really is amazing – here’s her site), I commit to putting these photos out there. Maybe not all at once, because my computer is ancient and I’m not trying to sit here till next week waiting for them to download.
Riding the discomfort wave, today I had a flashback. A couple years ago, at a yoga workshop, the teacher had us share with a partner answers to the classic question: if fear did not exist, what would you do? My answer was simple: I would teach yoga. My awesome partner encouraged me to share with everyone; however, I could not make my lips budge. I was so afraid of what might happen if I did.
When there’s passion, it can feel like there might be a lot to lose by putting myself out there. Rejection is terrifying until you actually meet it face to face. Now I recognize that teaching yoga has countless forms. “Not right now” or “you’re not ready” do not mean “you’re a failure, give up on your dreams”. And “no, not you, not ever” is really just the universe steering me in a different direction, nothing personal.
Today, my answer to the fearless-world question remains the same. However now I would add to it: I also want to teach yoga to kids, sell my artwork, and write fairy tales. No, that last one is not a metaphor.
Moreover, I now know why I want to do each of these things. Each one has reasons bigger than myself. I feel so fortunate to be able to share that.
Just the other week someone gave me great advice – to set a clear intention and not worry so much about the action steps to getting there. The steps are where I get bogged down, but she said that is the “easy part”. I am no longer afraid to share my intentions. I trust that the pieces will continue to fall into place.