I feel fortunate to have begun my yoga journey 10+ years ago, utilizing the few resources available on the market to teach myself. When I started, I did much of my personal practice at home via videos created by Gaia, with little to no expectations from myself or outside pressures placed upon me. I could stumble through my practice, become frustrated with the seemingly impossible task of quieting my mind, and even let out “f*ck!” once or twice (for holding those Warrior Poses a tad bit too long)… all while detached from any potential outside influences, as yoga is a personal practice after all.
However, had I begun my journey today I would be met by the yogi (social) media blitz and bombarded by unrealistic images, which often create false realities of what it means to be a “yogi” and to practice the art of yoga. This media blitz is beginning to lead to unrealistic expectations of oneself and actually creating more harm than good. This, of course, is completely contradictory, as yoga is meant to help you be at peace with yourself and the universe.
Since the beginning, a mass variety of styles have evolved, but regardless of the style, the real reasons we practice are based on yoga’s foundational beliefs:
- Practice non-violence towards others and the self
- Live and speak our truth at all times
- Do not take what is not freely given
- Control physical impulses of excess
- Posses only as much as necessary
- Purify the body and mind
- Find contentment with lack of materialism
- Transform, purify, and enable our consciousness to control unconscious impulses
- Find our divine nature through contemplation and meditation of life’s lessons
- Dedicate, devote, and surrender the fruits of one’s practice to a higher power
None of these are meant to create feelings of inadequacy, unnecessary self-criticism, or self-doubt. We as a society have taken yoga and essentially made it a commodity to be bought and sold by the public (consumers). It’s not about achieving the ultimate Instagram-worthy asana. I, myself, am tired of what has become the stereotype of yoga and yoginis, everywhere. I want to see real men and women, loving their bodies and glowing in all of their capabilities. And, remember… yoga is for everyone.
Do you ever feel unnecessary pressures, or expectations, from yourself or other yogis? If so, how do you place aside these pressures and focus on your practice?