I just started a Youtube channel – Mana Yoga – where, for now, I post video tutorials for new yoga practicionners: nothing fancy nor mind-blowing you know, only nice, easy poses and breathing techniques to start a practice with (it’s in French for now, but I might add English subtiles later on).
It wasn’t long before someone (actually a fellow yoga teacher) sent me a message to tell me that I « lacked flexibility in my lower back”. Ugh. Really? OK. I thanked her for her feedback and stayed with that terrible feeling of « I’m not good enough » for some very long minutes.
I have had issues with my spine for over 20 years, since a horseback riding accident left me with chronic pain and limited mobility in my lumbar spine. I honestly didn’t really care, until that person pointed it out.
Of course, to make things worse, I started watching lots of online yoga videos in order to compare myself to those super bendy yoga teachers / celebrities. And yes, my body definitely doesn’t bend like theirs. Actually, my body is nothing like theirs. And the spiraling negative thoughts went on : « maybe I should stop making videos. Clearly I’m not good enough for that. People will judge me again. I don’t want to be judge. I’m going to delete my channel. Maybe delete my Facebook page as well. And go find a hole to hide into. Sounds like a plan. Yes, that’s the plan.» Someone made one comment and it turned my whole world upside down: one day I was doing something great for the community, the next I was the worst failure in the world.
And then a deep breath. And a moment of clarity: who cares about the shape of my body? After all my videos are not about me, they are about Yoga. I spend a lot of time working on them to inspire and to bring the benefits of yoga into other people’s life. The only thing that truly matters is that I give good, clear, valuable information.
Although you have to respect some basic alignements during your asana practice to avoid injuries, yoga is not about the shape of your body or the way it bends. It is about the intention you put in your practice. It is about working on and with your breath. It is about developing focus and cultivating mindfulness. It is also about identifying your dark corners, and with consistent practice, bringing light into them. The goal is not the final pose, the picture-perfect pose, even if we love to see those on social media : the goal is the work we put in, what we learn about ourselves along the way, and how we transform ourselves in the process, on and off the mat!
With that in mind, keep practicing, and enjoy every breath!
Om shanti.

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