I am 100% average at Yoga. And that’s okay.
As part of the online yoga community, I see a lot of my fellow practitioners posting videos of themselves doing their favourite routines and poses. It’s inspiring and somewhat intimidating to see how fluid their motions are, how strong they look, how cute their yoga outfits are (note: most of these people are women).
Out of curiosity, I recorded myself doing a half-hour yoga routine because I wanted to see what I look like doing yoga.
Aside from the fact that I was using my phone and wide-angle lenses are not kind, I noticed that my idea of what I looked like doing yoga was vastly different from what I actually looked like. Poses I thought I held well didn’t look nearly as polished, my legs didn’t straighten in forward folds — though I knew that already, and my movements weren’t nearly as effortless and fluid as others.
My first thought was: Oh god, that’s what I look like? Yikes.
But then I stopped. And I reflected for a moment before continuing the negative self-talk that was inevitably going to follow.
So what if I didn’t look exactly like all of the Instagram yogis? I enjoy my practice and I find meaning in moving my body this way. It feels good and I’ve gained so much strength.
Those are the things I could be focused on. Not the fact that the camera on my phone made me look 50lbs heavier. My body is amazing and I’m so grateful that it allows me to move the way it does. Even with a little pudge and thighs that could suffocate someone.
Yoga isn’t my job, it’s for pure enjoyment. So why am I treating it like a competition?
I think our culture is a little stuck on being the best at everything. No matter what. Any hobby you have, whether it’s painting or knitting or basket weaving or making model airplanes, what’s the point if you’re not “good” at it? That is such a toxic way to look at enjoyment.
As if, you can’t enjoy something unless you’re perfect at it. Unless you’re the best. But what if we enjoyed things simply because we enjoyed them? Not because we’re necessarily good at it — though, I admit it does help a little — but because doing the thing simply makes us happy.
I didn’t start yoga because I wanted to be the best, I started to connect with my body and build mindfulness and mobility. I keep doing it for the enjoyment of it, not because I’m going to ever be perfect.
While I’m not the super flexible yogi of my wildest fantasies, stepping on my mat is an act of love and joy for myself. Yes, I struggle at getting into certain poses and I have no idea whether I’ll ever get my legs straight in a forward fold, but at least I’ll enjoy the journey.
So let yourself be average. If that’s as good as you get at something, then that’s fantastic!
You are learning and growing and simply enjoying what you’re doing. That’s what matters. The end product is just one aspect, but the journey is what really counts. And if you aren’t enjoying it, then give yourself permission to stop. If it doesn’t bring you joy, let it go.
Let go of preconceived ideas. They will just get in the way of your path. Let go of the negative self-talk, the spirals, the doubt. I know it’s difficult, believe me I know, but try your best. And if you are doing your best, you are succeeding.
If we treat everything like a competition, we’re going to wake up one day and realize we’ve wasted so much time on things that made us miserable. Don’t regret your passions.
Be who you are. If that’s someone who is simply average at yoga? Then that’s beautiful. Maybe after more time enjoying your practice, you’ll realize hey, you’ve improved. But getting caught up in being the best without taking the time to settle in and enjoy is going to leave you feeling a little empty.
Or at least I always do.
So I’m going to take my negative self-talk and tell it to can it, while I continue to just simply enjoy the time on my mat, even if I look a little silly and a little fat.