The benefits of yoga have long been shared by yogic philosophers for centuries. Yoga gives us the opportunity to explore our inner abilities as well as our insecurities. It is a leeway for self-discovery and a medium for releasing thoughts that do not serve our higher self; thus releasing unnecessary baggage from our past, some semi-traumatic experiences, or negative thoughts of ourselves which we may be subconsciously carrying.
Speaking with a caveat, my argument is that yoga does not change people. This may come as a shock since you have heard of people attending yoga to learn how to handle stress in their life or to reduce anxiety. Those same people now walk around high on life, wear yoga pants, and eat weird food. My point is that yoga does not change people but allows people to experience a positive energy shift in themselves, an overall reflection of their true-selves. They are able to acknowledge intolerable and unnecessary baggage and then let it go in order to move on. As a student continues to practice yoga, they are able to accept themselves for what they are: perfectly imperfect. They cannot change the past, but they can live fully in the present. Yoga gives us the opportunity to wholly accept ourselves in every sense possible.
As a yoga instructor, people approach me (primarily women) expressing their anxiety about practicing yoga in front of other people in a studio. The concern for looking good and fear of other people judging their body, their asana (poses), and everything in between. Many women quickly point out their body flaws; assuming that other yogis are going to be looking at each one of these insecurities. This subconscious fear is an example of a baggage. Though repressed within our mind, it limits us in many ways. Instead of opening ourselves to acknowledging the greatness in others we are busy consuming our mind with these self-deprecating thoughts. There is a concept in life that where your mind goes your energy flows. If we continue to feed our own worst inner critic, then where are we allowing ourselves to grow? By harboring fearful thoughts we box ourselves inside our comfort zone. Nothing ever grows within the comfort zone. We never take a leap of faith, we never allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we never try a new pose for fear of falling.
I attended a studio for the first time because I needed a saving grace. Times were rough and life wasn’t going as expected. As I anxiously waited for class to begin and tried to blend in, out of the blue sauntered a beautiful yogi with bright leggings, radiating beauty from the inside out (I’m not kidding she was sunshine wrapped into a fun-size body) into the studio. She practiced with enjoyment in front of the room and did the poses the instructor offered with grace and ease. Dumbstruck, I wanted to be her. Meanwhile, I struggled to find my breathe and stiffness derailed my every attempt at the poses. At that point, I realized that everything in my life was not as I expected and the poses were just another item on my long list of failures I was currently tallying up in life. I was trying something new and could not adjust my body to perform poses and that was a reflection of myself: a failure. Even though no one had ever told me I was a failure, I had set these expectations of what my life should be at the age of 21. When I failed to meet these expectations I concluded that I was the problem. This was my burdensome baggage and I needed to break free.
The practice of yoga has allowed me to embrace that I will never be someone else. Not even like my first yoga crush who practiced with grace. I will forever and will always be me. Yoga helped me to accept myself as I am; to accept my flaws and the things I cannot change about myself; to be my own woman; to embrace each pose with ease; to continue to acknowledge the beauty of each yoga student and what each student has to offer.
Currently, I am the Director of Marketing for an athletic apparel brand called YEMA. YEMA’s concept developed with one thought in mind: each woman’s body is beautiful, just as it is. The clothing line is made to compliment every woman’s body and serve as a supporting role to her health goals. I love that we provide every woman a chance to feel themselves. In fact we use women of body types, color and sizes and not models in our photo shoots. We embrace them as they are and we do not edit the photos. YEMA encourages self-love and a community of women that want to break standards. We embrace women as they are and we aim to challenge the current beauty standards imposed by the media.
Author Samantha Rains
Bio: An old soul with youthful cravings of travel and love ~ yoga enthusiast ~ Instagram: @sunshinesamrains ~ “Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” Maya Angelou
Link to social media or website: http://www.yemacalif.com/