I've had a few things on my mind these past few weeks, primarily my own #insecurity in moving forward as a yoga instructor and even a wellness clinician. I see this same insecurity in my teenage son. He waits for his work to be perfect before submitting to his teachers so he often misses deadlines and sometimes freezes up entirely. I fear being #vulnerable as a new yogi teacher whose body doesn't meet the general expectation of a yogi. Yes, I know yoga is for everyone and every body, and my less than perfect body will welcome those who also fall short of the more stereotypical yogi body, but still, in my mind, my less than perfect is so much more raw than everyone else's, right? Even as a clinician, while I don't have the knowledge and expertise of the functional medicine legends, I have more than a decade's experience and am immersed in the literature so that I have a pretty solid foundation. I have helped hundreds, if not thousands of people, yet I fall so far short of my own expectations, which makes me want to cower a bit until I am that perfect resource, with the perfectly toned body, to give myself unquestionable credibility. Maybe then I won't endure harsh criticism? Maybe then I won't fail anyone? Maybe my #intentions will be better understood when I meet that state of near-perfection?
Perfection really can be boring however. I know most often when I meet someone who I am initially really intrigued by, assuming they have mastered their craft in every way, attained perfection, that it isn't too long after, they fall from their pedestal. Paraphrased a bit from Edgar Allan Poe, "There really is no exquisite beauty... without some strangeness in the proportion." The perfect delicious or celebrity tomato in the supermarket may be without blemish, but it is also without much taste. Visit your local farmer's market though and find yourself a less than perfect, but authentic tomato; you can eat those like apples! It is our struggle, our vulnerabilities, our imperfections that allow for connection. It is our #authenticity that others identify with and want to build relationships.
Overcoming My Obstacles
This past week I initiated my first instagram account. I hadn't done this before because I never took selfies and really hadn't a lot of pictures I wanted to share. However, I was recently inspired by a yoga #challenge which was being held on Instagram so I took that step, knowing that two years ago, I had such little satisfaction in my appearance, particularly in photographs, that almost no pictures existed of me. I began learning to accept and appreciate myself. I couldn't even "say cheese" for the camera. A fake smile or presenting a genuine one on cue was beyond me. Not having braces until my adult years, it became my nature to keep my mouth closed and limit exposure of my teeth. I started taking more pictures. Admittedly, I practiced smiling in the camera. I embraced my nose by channeling my inner Barbra Streisand and Lady Gaga. However, I have absolutely zero full body pictures.
Really wanting to participate in this #yoga challenge, I asked a friend to come over and take pictures of me in various poses. I find yoga beautiful. I enjoy discovering what my body can do, which grows stronger with every practice on my mat. I am completely in love with yoga in nature. I even held my first #crow pose on the paddle-board while floating in the water. However, not a single picture taken of me yesterday remains on my phone. No way was I allowing anyone to see those. I was humiliated. I couldn't even believe my friend had that view of my belly rolls. Honestly, I felt a bit betrayed. How could my friends, who attended many of my yoga classes, not have told me that I looked like that!?! And to think that I had been teaching yoga, as if I was a professional, in front of other people! My plans for creating an online yoga program now seemed impossible.
I sat on my mat. Discouraged. I thought, "well, I will start from the beginning here too." I know I am strong. I know I am #flexible. I know I am resilient. I know my body birthed six children. I know my body endured decades of profound trauma and that elevated #cortisol caused abdominal fat to accumulate, mostly around my organs. My weakened core caused my hamstrings to over develop in effort to compensate and support my posture, while my ass almost disappeared entirely. I know that I've lost fifty pounds in the last 18 months and have gained a great deal of muscle and strength. My body reflects my journey, and my journey has been hard. I am strong. I am growing.
This picture is me sitting in the easy sitting pose, on my mat, one of the most basic poses and this is an authentic smile. I am starting at ground zero for sharing pictures of myself doing yoga. I am going to try and offer a picture each day on Instagram and embrace my body through the next thirty days. If you feel led, join me. Follow me on Instagram (doctorpennylane) and I will happily follow you. Let's encourage each other as we embrace our #authentic selves.