Often if I tell a stranger that I am teaching yoga. The conclusion is drawn quickly; then you are probably very flexible and relaxed. Yes and no. In certain poses I can appear more flexible than average, while in other poses I can look more stiff than average. The better question is flexible compared to whom? There will always be people who are less flexible and people who are more flexible. So why not just stop comparing ourselves with other yogis and yoginis who have different bodies and are on completely different journey.
And no, you don’t have to be flexible at all to practice yoga. Sometimes a stiffer body is way better, since your body will let you know clearly when you are going too far/too deep. A stif(fer) body can make you feel more humble and grateful as well. Full lotus pose in headstand is not on your goal list, instead you just want to feel better in your body and relief your ache muscles.
A relaxed and calm person? Oh yes, I definitely am if I am on a holiday with loved ones and having nothing to worry about. No seriously, my close friends and family won’t define me as a relaxed person. While I can appear calm and focused on the outside, as soon as you start to know me better you realize that I am a normal human being who probably stresses slightly more than average. This is one of the reasons why I started practicing yoga at the first place.
Does this make me less of a perfect yogini? Again you could ask yourself compared to whom am I more stressed? What really matters to me is how my yoga practice makes me feel. What do I experience? What do I feel? How is my yoga practice helping me to discover who I really am.
That is why a home practice can be such a wonderful learning experience. I have only myself to deal with. If no one else is watching how does my practice look like? Do I nurture and nourish my body, mind and soul? Through my own personal practice I start to feel more grounded and more connected to my authentic self.
These strong roots allow me to practice with others while maintaining a connection with my inner truth and the signals of my body and mind. In this way, we can use a yoga class as a way to connect with others while keeping our own connection. In that way we truly become one.
While trying to define how a successful yoga practice looks or feels like, I first started to write down what it doesn’t mean to me;
– You have been meditating (in an isolated cave) for (a couple of) years.
– You are able to do that perfect difficult ………………… (to be filled in by you) pose which could be used as the cover photo of the Yoga Journal
– You look like a super model and/or have achieved your ideal body composition
– You’re always happy and everyone is your friend
– You’re never mean to others or yourself
– You are a vegan/vegetarian
– You are drinking green juices
– You don’t have a television
– You practice yoga/asanas EVERY DAY
– Your alignment is ‘perfect’
– Your Sanskrit is fluent
– You ‘AUM’ everywhere and everyday
– ‘Namaste’ is your new “hi, how’re you doing?”
– ………. ( to be filled in by your own critical self)
For me being a successful yogi/yogini means you are able to change your life, attitude and relationships in a positive way. It means you are making progress with moving towards living your authentic self 99.9% of the time. You don’t pretend you are better or worse than others. You are just you and you dare to show yourself to the world. You realize you are unique and there is only one person like you in the world. And that is real awesomeness!
PS: This has been writing while I was on a positive relaxed feminine high. So no, I am not there yet and still working and I will keep on working to be me and to let go of the labels I stick to myself on how I should look like, how I should dress, how I should eat, how I should behave and how I should feel. And I realize I am already perfect with all my beautiful imperfections. Let’s reach out to others and work together to make this world a more beautiful & positive place.
Perfect imperfect yogini