The yoga path now has many branches, some of which seem to have really nothing to do with a healthy yoga practice, and even a few which have abused the name past recognition: “Is Mr Bikram present?”
Along with the serious offenses, there has also been the humor of how far styles have morphed, such as Goat Yoga, where little baby goats prance, play, and use your Downward Dog as a mini mountain training track. One of my funniest friends proclaimed years ago, “Yoga needs to calm the f*** down!”
Beyond the absurdity of the industry, there is a projected idealism fueled by social media and the model yogi/yogini.
The picture-perfect, radiant, toned-to-the-finest muscle, balancing-on-one-hand sales pitch really does no service in inviting people to join our tribe, but rather intimidates and isolates.
This showpony style has made too many now roll their eyes, and the trendy-bendy facade needs a new look.
This is not stated to shame those who have worked long and hard on their practice, or to discourage those who see that image and feel the surge of motivation to work towards their goals, but rather to encourage tuning into honesty and integrity as the roots of your practice, and to keep things real.
Get real yoga. The most important message for me is to share the personal potential of connecting to your own practice.
Yoga is not about how flexible you are, but the exploration of your own body through the direction of breath and personal alignment. The tools you will develop on the mat to tap into consciousness, patience, consideration, and honesty will empower you to put these into practice day-to-day, helping to enrich your life in all directions.
“Finding Your Yoga” (http://novaholisticjournal.com/stories/find-your-yoga), is a journey, and as we have witnessed with the evolution of the many styles, there are many paths to explore in this practice. If you love baby goats climbing over you, and it brings you joy, get to goat yoga, but if you are calling more presence and stillness into your life, that is probably not the right class choice.
Yoga is an amazing practice that can provide tools to become more intimate with yourself, heal your heart, and clear out the clutter of your mind.
Yoga invites you to explore radical self acceptance, to be empathetic, and find your balance. (http://novaholisticjournal.com/stories/finding-balance-1)
Yoga will ask you to be real with yourself. You certainly can work towards that more advanced posture - just be patient and playful along the way. You can be inspired by the yoga glow - just be honest with yourself and question, “Is your focus set on an ideal or authentic connection?” How are you practising radical self acceptance or are you caught in patterns of projected perfectionism?
The ideal look of vitality, spirituality, confidence, and strength, which is projected in our media, is a marketing tactic of alluring messages to draw you in. Instead, can this message call you to question what is real for you?
There is no quick program fix. A six week challenge can get the ball rolling, but knowing and feeling what connects you more deeply to the practice is what will keep you committed.
Deepening your connection and commitment comes through feeling.
Feel into what calls you beyond the physical benefits. Notice how you feel when you first start your practice. Does your body carry stress or tightness? Can you feel anxiety in your abdomen or chest?
Rather than attachment to why you may feel that way, can you simply acknowledge what your body is communicating to you and notice as your practice progresses what tools work to release the symptoms that cause your suffering?
Get real with yourself, and feel what makes a difference.
Take the tools you develop on the mat and commit to using these tools to keep things real in daily life.
What real foods make you feel vital and not weighed down? Can you stop and breathe when you’re getting agro on the road, and know the traffic is out of your control? Can you take five minutes to reset your focus in a micro-meditation to then receive the benefits of kicking that next goal rather than indulge in your usual distracting habits?
As you continue to apply these simple, but life changing practices into your real life, how are you evolving? Do you find you are more patient with your partner? Do you feel better in your body? Have you let go of your control freak nature, and find you feel more at peace?
Real practices, for real life, to be more real with yourself, and allow others to be real in their own expression and experience: this is real yoga. Let’s let go of the ideal to receive the benefits of real yoga.