I think one of the (many) reasons yoga has stolen my heart and become my addiction is how ever-expanding the practice is. The variations and modifications to each pose are endless, and as someone with a terribly short attention span (seriously, never try to play Monopoly with me), I love that there’s always something new to try. I find it fascinating all the shapes and contortions the human body can work its way into. One look at my instagram profile will show I’m fairly…experimental with my yoga. The more challenging a pose looks, the more determined I’ll be to figure out how to nail it. Some are pretty impressive, while some look downright freaky (ummm..how is my leg doing that??). During class, when we’re moving into a tricky, bendy pose, my teacher will often joke, “Now, don’t worry if your version of the pose doesn’t look like Emily’s – most people won’t. She’s just like elasto-girl or something”.
I’m naturally fairly bendy, but years of gymnastics as a child and yoga as an adult has definitely stretched me even more. Because of that, there are a lot of poses that I just don’t realize are supposed to be a challenge. I’ll easily twist myself into a pose, and then be surprised when I see the yogi next to me struggling. There are times I’ll look at others in a class, and we are clearly doing “different versions” of the same pose. Sometimes I’ll even get home from class and ask my mom to lie on the floor and “try this – I need to see what a normal person’s body does”, and her version will look different still.
Before I get bawled at for being a stuck-up, better-than-everyone yogi, that’s not at all what I mean. I think those differences are part of the beauty of the yoga practice. I think it’s amazing how one pose can look as many different ways as there are people in the room, and still be done correctly. Yoga embraces our differences, and lets us be enough, just as is. One person’s practice may not look anything like another’s – but they’re both beautiful. My body and your body and that other girl’s body may not look alike when we all take dancer’s pose, for instance – and that’s okay.
This is a good reminder for the rest of my life.
My life doesn’t look anything close to some of my closest friends’ lives right now. While they’re settled down with partners, owning homes and thriving in their careers, I’m kind of floundering in those areas. But, as my mom reminds me on my “poor me” days, I’ve had experiences and things in my life that some of them never have or will. I’ve travelled the world, I’ve come so far with my yoga training, I’ve gone through shitty times and come out as a better person. It’s just a matter of what’s important in each individual person’s life – buying a house isn’t overly important to me right now, while seeing the world might not be a priority to some of them. Living totally different lives, but neither of us are doing it wrong. We’re just taking different variations of this pose/life.
So just a reminder for next time I (or you) have one of those I’m-failing-at-life-why-aren’t-I-doing-all-these-things days – it’s okay. Your life story is not going to look like anyone else’s, and that’s okay. That’s what makes it so beautiful.
Embrace it. Love it. Do what makes your heart happy, and what makes your body feel good. I promise, in yoga and in life, your own unique variation is always enough, and always beautiful.