Perceptions: How We Can Be Our Authentic Selves
I recently returned from a teacher training workshop in Tuscon Arizona with the incredible Christina Sell, Darren Rhodes and Amy Ippolitti. Senior Anusara teachers and yogal-ebrities in their own right. The training was called “being a magnet for magnificence”…who doesn’t want some of that? Off I went to magnetize myself to my greatest potential. It’s a lofty goal. Can that be done in 5 days in the desert? The very first day of the training the first thing I noticed was how everyone looked. Perception is truth right? Yogis/inis from the west coast are far different then yogis/inis from the rest of the country… so I found.
I think the beauty ideal or the standard set for yogis are people who are incredibly thin, good looking, super flexible and can recite the yoga sutras in Sanskrit while doing a one handed handstand. I was awash in all of this during my training. I instantly felt out of place and uncomfortable in my own skin, my brown skin. It has come to my attention that not many black folk do yoga, let alone train teachers and own a yoga studio. I am certainly in the minority. I like to think of myself as a trail blazer. When people see me they are instantly shocked I am not a size 0 ( size 14 on a good day). I am black…I have never seen a yogi like myself. The images of yogis/inis perpetuated by the media such as Yoga Journal is the same ideal we set in fashion magazines. Come as you are but be young, fit, flexible and Caucasian.
I found my training in Tucson incredibly challenging and unbearably uncomfortable. I cried like a baby through the first day. As I sat in my own skin and looked around at my fellow yogis, I felt lost. What did I do? Why did I come? Why am I supposed to be here? I called my husband and asked him to come and get me. He refused and told me to sit in my discomfort because I have something to learn. He was right. What I learned is what I tell my students all the time, stand in your own power. Root down through your feet, firm your legs, lengthen your spine and open your heart to the possibility that you are perfect as you are no matter what the media or society tells you. Sometimes we lose sight of that and we get caught in that idea that yoga is a function of beauty, when yoga is an expression of beauty, discipline, sacrifice and love. Yoga teaches us to feel with our hearts and experience with our bodies.
I learned from the training that I am already a magnet for magnificence. I am supported and can come to my mat just as I am, black, a size 14 and pretty flexible. One day I may be a size 2 yogini, one day I may do a one handed handstand, and one day I may be able to do Eka Pada Koundinyasanas (don’t ask), but if I never do any of these things, that is ok.
What I did learn by the love and support of everyone at my training, is that I am magnificent as I am and I was welcome as I am….I am proud to be me.