I feel compelled to write this post. There are many thoughts I have on this subject of yoga and expectations. I'll start with one for today and maybe address others in future posts.
For many women in our North American society, this word can bring up thoughts and feelings ranging from shame, obsession, destruction, dread, envy, striving, and more. There seems to be so much pressure on ourselves about our bodies. How do we look in skinny jeans? How do we look in high-waisted shorts and cute little dresses? If you're like me, you have areas of your body that you try to hide, or parts that you silently (or maybe not-so-silently) condemn "why can't my thighs be thinner!?" "If only I had a few more inches on me or at least a few less pounds..." I could go on and on and it's almost embarrassing to write this out, but I feel compelled. Because I know I'm not the only one. And I know this shame that many of us carry around is not from the God who created us and called us Beautiful. It's not from the God who adores us and desires us to delight in our bodies and be grateful. How many times do I remember to say; "thanks, God, that I have legs that work!" instead of silently wishing they looked different?
Yoga, for me, has been a way to come back to my body, and realize it's strength, beauty, ability, and importance. The more I practice, the stronger I feel. Are my legs as 'skinny' and muscular as I wish they would be? No. Is that really important. No. Can I balance and do some cool things that require a strength and concentration that helps me in life? Yes. Please understand, I'm not condemning health and working out. But I am standing against this perfection-mentality that keeps many amazing women enslaved to a false expectation - and an expectation that is quite frankly a waste of our time. As I've said above, I'm guilty of falling into this trap, too. But I want to cultivate a community where we remind one another that our beauty is much deeper than our pant size. Our value is much bigger and more important than how we look in yoga pants.
I want Flourishing Hearts to be a place where we all feel WELCOMED. We don't have to have 'yoga bodies" (which, from what I see all over instagram and pinterest look pretty much perfect...) It's not the kind of spirit I want to cultivate. I don't want a spirit of comparison, of 'perfect bodies' according to our current culture, a spirit of shame because of how we look and think we look. I want Flourishing Hearts to be a place of authenticity and acceptance. A place where we come together with thanksgiving because we can move our bodies and be present with God just as we are.
So if you struggle or worry that you're not in 'good enough' shape for yoga, please know that's not true. Everyone is welcome. We take the time to practice because it's good for our bodies, but also, good for our heart and soul to be able to take time to be present with ourselves and with our God who adores us no matter how we think we may look.
"The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”