I enjoy sewing and was a big fan of the show Project Runway in its early days, when it focused on the craft of designing and constructing quality under daunting deadlines. If you have never seen the show, it brings together a collection of 16 or so talented, up and coming fashion designers and gives them a chance to showcase and grow their skills. Each week they are given challenges--make a wedding dress in two days, create an outfit from only things you purchase at a garden supply store--and over the course of weeks their particular voice as a designer emerges.
I always waited for the challenge when they brought in everyday people from outside the fashion and entertainment world to be the models. This challenge often brought out the worst or the best in designers as they expressed their frustration that the new clients weren't like their models or they showed genuine care for the uniqueness of the individual in front of them. I still remember vividly the episode when the designers were asked to create for female veterans attending a special event. The winning designer not only created a beautiful garment, but he also treated his client with care and respect. Her new outfit showcased her bold spirit and her prosthetic as she confidently walked the runway.
For yoga teachers fresh into teaching, there is often an experience similar to the "everyday people challenge". After spending 200 hours or more studying anatomy and the ideals of the asana poses, we enter our first class to see a room full of people who don't look like the glossy photographs and respond to our well rehearsed cues as if we are speaking a foreign language. One of my teacher trainees and now dear friend and colleague, faced this on her first day of teaching. She skillfully guided the class into the pose Trikonasana, or triangle pose, only to see poses that looked nothing like what she expected. Instead of giving in to panic or trying to fix everything, she picked two key points and then allowed them space to feel the benefits of the pose. I was so impressed with how she handled this that it has become a cornerstone of how I train aspiring teachers . . . do the things that will keep people safe and encourage them to feel some joy in the moment. That's the best thing you can do, on the mat and in your life.
Over the next months I will be making some changes to my website and adding new offerings. I am changing the name of my blog to better reflect what I want to share with you. While it's still true that everything we do in life is yoga, what I most want to share is that yoga and life don't need to look like someone else's ideal. Yoga and life meet us where we are, whether it's waiting in line at the grocery store, comforting a loved one who is having a challenging day or cleaning out the clutter in our closet. Our practice is to decide how we want to meet it in return--with love and compassion or with resistance and the desire for it to be different than it is.
I see the goodness and kindness in you and honor it from the same place within me, knowing that we are one in our hearts.
“We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create."
-- John Lennon