One of the greatest lessons I have learned since beginning my yoga practice has been self-compassion. I was intimidated by the exercise because although I was a gymnast in my youth, I had lost a large amount of flexibility by the time I was 22.
I was incredibility aware of this loss, which was a large motivator for wanting to take up yoga, but something I had not lost from my time as a gymnast was my perfectionism.
It was something that held me back from starting yoga for a long time. The fear of failure.
Self-compassion didn't exist in those days of 4 hour workouts 5 days a week. It was all or nothing. It was stick that landing. It was hit or miss. It was gold medals.
All of which makes sense when you're dealing with acrobatics over a 4 inch beam, but it's not an easy mindset for a little girl.
It's not an easy mindset for anyone.
So even though I had grown up some, I still worked up this idea of how difficult yoga would be and how all I would do is disappoint myself. I avoided the exercise.
I was still that little girl who didn't want to disappoint her coach. Or herself.
Then finally, one day I bought a yoga mat in a lovely shade of dark green, pulled up the YouTube link my roommate had suggested, and I tried.
It was so difficult.
I didn't even match my already low expectations at how well I would perform. Downward dog had my arms shaking only a couple of seconds in. My heart was thumping so incredibly hard in my chest.
I couldn't help but think:
How does someone relax while doing this?
Then in the middle of the online yoga class, a kind and sweet voice taught me something very profound:
There is no judgement when practicing yoga.
You can mentally sit back and observe. You can notice the struggle. But you don't have to let it upset you. The goodness of yoga comes from the practice itself, not the execution of each pose.
There is no enlightenment in a difficult pose.
So I smiled. I sat back into a child's pose. And I breathed into this new smile. This new realization that perfection was not the goal. The effort was.
I learned to love myself and forgive myself.
Showing up to my mat each time I practice is the achievement.
I still lose sight of this realization from time to time. Sometimes I fall hard out of a headstand.
Sometimes I don't want to write a blog post because I'm afraid it won't be good enough.
Right now I don't want to buy any clothes for my capsule wardrobe because I think all I'll do is disappoint myself and my readers. I've been sulking over this feeling for weeks now.
But now I'm going to smile.
I'm going to sit back for a moment. Give myself some space. And breathe into whatever new feeling or idea arises.
Sometimes when we begin a difficult journey towards something like simplicity, we have to remember that we're human. We have to remember that there is no perfection, just ourselves.
But we can show up to our mat. And be okay.
Thanks for reading again on my Simple Monday, as usual. I'm very grateful for those of you who find value in what I have to say.
I'm grateful for those of you who don't and spend your time in other ways.
If you'd like to know how I practice yoga, I do so by following my favorite yoga instructor on YouTube, Lesley Fightmaster at Fightmaster Yoga and practice in the comfort of my home.
Do you find yourself being too harsh too often? Share with me in the comments below.