I have mixed feelings about publicly placing my body in these peculiar poses for the world to see. I mean it’s one thing to do the downward dog but throwing your legs over your head and showing off that damn good behind of yours is a different story. You see stunning photos of these pros bending backwards, looking ever so elegant and gracious, yet the mere thought of it puts my sweat glands in overdrive and somehow I think that people on the streets could do without my attempt at these postures, completely putting myself out there while doing so.
Must one be advanced along their yoga journey to justify bending in public? Have you ever seen a modest yogi, simply doing a few tree poses and maybe a trikonasana? (Thank you Google!) Is it always the jaw dropping, extreme acrobatic poses one must do to justify doing it at all? I practise yoga for peace of mind, relaxation and the ultimate personal downtime. I have found out the hard way that it doesn’t exist when I try and do this in a public area. No relaxation, physical nor mental has been achieved in my attempts when people watch me in this vulnerable state.
Breathing technique is out the window, and rather than a meditative state my mind lands in paranoia mode – am I doing this right? Does it look ok? She looks like she practises yoga, she’s judging me. What ultra cool pose shall I do next? No thanks. No satisfaction in it for me.
In the summer of 2014, while I was on a crazy European adventure, I moved to Amsterdam and worked in a hostel right on the beach. With no personal space what so ever, (a challenge in itself, and the reason why yoga was needed) I planned on being the right beach yogi, getting up every morning and creating an ultra Zen ritual of yoga and swimming in the sea. Of course, this didn’t last long after I started indulging in Dutch daily life and found my morning ritual to be either recovering, sleeping or working. The beach was always full of life. Locals, tourists, backpackers alike flocked to the waters and soft sand of Amsterdam to enjoy a day of relaxation, of which never consisted of yoga. I never came across a fellow yogi and always felt a sense of isolation. I didn’t feel comfortable in the midst of these beach bums, bending over so they could see mine in all its glory. The beach is a popular public place to do yoga after all, and I thought I would be like those ultimate bendy happy people with an exotic Instagram feed showing my dreamy lifestyle and daily Zen ritual with impressive poses and beautiful backdrops.
Safe to say I resorted back to an alternative, more publicly acceptable fitness regime for my time in Amsterdam. Swimming is boring to watch, no one sees you hiking mountains, and no one even cares about you running. My dreams of being a beach yogi were put on the backburner. Even if I had the courage to stand upside down for a few minutes for all to see, I still don’t see how this may be meditative. Yoga should be purely about the practise, thus creating a sense of meditation and pure relaxation – and the day that I’ll be mentally in this state, while physically in that state, well it would be one to tell the grand kids! Who knows about the future, maybe I’ll find a more secluded beach to begin my public yogi journey. For now, indoors, on my mat and with soothing music is just right.
What are your thoughts on this matter? Have you tried to incorporate a more public practise into your regime? If you have had more success than I have, or if you feel the same, I’d love to hear from you! Let’s start a discussion about this in the comments below.
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