We all want to feel loved, open, free and peaceful. We all desire to let go of the ideals and expectations of the "world" and be simply still. What if you had permission to be anything your heart wanted you to be? What if there was no right or wrong way of doing yoga poses, just simply YOUR way. The way that feels good for your body, mind and spirit. That is yoga to me.
There's a smorgasbord of yoga labels all around us. Each having its own fancy term or cool yoga gear. It's a bummer to see yoga magazines or videos with the same types of bodies representing yoga. This sends a message to the world that yoga is about looking a specific way. Instead of getting lost in the confusion, I chose to start really looking at my responsibility in this. Most of my clients share with me that they don't feel comfortable going to a yoga studio. One, they don't look like a yogi, two they might not do the poses "perfectly", and finally, they don't know where to even start. So many labels to choose from, so little time!
This is a very common experience with the people I teach or know. It is extremely challenging to go to a studio and relax when immediately you have to get your legs in lotus position. How uncomfortable is that? Yikes. Or you are so busy doing power yoga that you forgot to breathe or relax, feeling sore as you walk out the studio. Since I have experienced both being uncomfortable as a student and teacher I feel it is my duty to spread some of my truth around.
There is no label or box to fit yoga in. When I first began teaching yoga, I felt as if I had to "be" a certain way. Speak in a particular soft tone, and know all the right terminology. I've realized it's the total opposite. The more authentic I am, which means, giving myself permission to be Jenny, giggling, hugging, singing, sharing, being as transparent as possible, gives the student permission to choose to do the same.
Yes, poses are a part of yoga, and they do wonders for your body! But yoga is not about the poses or how long we can balance. The body listens when its given an opportunity to connect with your true self, and not edit what comes out.
Releasing the need to force your body into poses that hurt and allow yourself to explore what DOES feel good. To make your yoga practice, like life, all about you.
Instead of wishing for the world to change their box on what yoga should be, I decided to create and be the difference. Teach yoga from my heart, and allow it to guide each class. Whenever I share with my students that it's perfect to be exactly the way they are, my eyes well up. It feels good to share what I have yearned for in a yoga class.
If you feel uncomfortable going to a yoga studio, you are not alone. Listen to your heart, and listen to what your body is sharing with you. Start investigating and asking around for guidance on what form works for you. You are worth it. Give yourself permission to BE yourself no matter what. That is yoga.
About The Author
Jenny Ward is the owner of PLAYWARD. PLAYWARDS mission is to celebrate the magnificence of being alive. Jenny is a licensed coach, speaker, author and PLAY ACTIVIST!