When I was a young teen, I used to scour the internet for uplifting quotes that inspired me me to step beyond my perceived limitation, to believe, to hope, and to dream. Years before ever setting foot on a yoga mat, one of the many powerful affirmations I had scrawled in colorful pen in my high school agenda book was “I am more than I know myself to be.” Yoga philosophy is not something someone has to teach us, it is already inside us. It is in our curiosity, in our intuition, and in our wisdom. When a concrete version of yoga philosophy was finally laid out for me in my first yoga teacher training it a huge aha moment for me. It wasn’t that I had learned something new, it was that what I knew all along had been revealed.
I am more than i know myself to be
Just one of many related quotes from Shakti Mhi, the teacher of my first yoga teacher training:
Imagine taking a piece of gold and melting it into different forms of jewelry, such as earrings, a ring, a bracelet or a necklace. You show the jewelry to person A, asking him what he sees and he says, “I see earrings, a ring, a bracelet and a necklace.” You show them to person B, asking him what he sees and he says “I see gold.” Person A represents the small self that sees forms and identifies with them. Person B represents the observer who sees the essence beyond forms.
On a lovely weekend getaway to the peaceful ocean-side Carmel, California, my personal photographer (i.e. my husband, Richard) was snapping some shots of me doing some poses on the rocks along the beach. There must have been a airedale terrier meetup group at the beach that day, because there were fifteen or twenty of them nearby playing with each other, digging up sand, and retrieving balls from the water. Being in front of a camera brings out my inner perfectionist as I wrack my sensations to find my alignment and relax my face into a photogenic hint-of-a-smile. Just as I’d found one of my picture-perfect positions, one of the terriers jumped up onto the rocks to interrupt my posing and give me a moment of real yoga:
Sometimes we strive so hard for perfection that we forget that imperfection is happiness. – Karen Nave
This focus on perfecting the physical aspects of the poses can also take over our practice on the mat. But the real yoga is not the shape the body takes, or the precise alignment, or the even serene facial expression. The yoga is the sukkha, the joy, the svadyaya, the self-study, the dharana and dhyana, the concentration and meditation. None of these come from a focus perfection—they come from cultivating acceptance. They come from a willingness to be who you are, where you are, what you are. Don’t get so caught up practicing the poses that you forget to practice the yoga.