debunking

Posted by on Jul 23, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on debunking

debunking

There are certain traits that people tend to associate with yoga teachers, and at times I fit the bill: vegetarian environmentalist who follows the phases of the moon and might be caught wearing a mala wrapped around her wrist.  But there are a whole other whack of things that get sucked into this stereotypic vortex that don’t apply so easily to my life: easily thin, detox-obsessed, “let it flow, let it go” mentality, teetotaler, perfect handstand, perfectly peaceful life.  Facebook and Instagram, while offering fun diversions, really serve to exacerbate this misconception of my life and the lives of many others who put their yogic thoughts and pics out into the world.  So here’s the thing–it’s not revelatory, but it’s worth the reminder–social media is a place where the good stuff makes it to print.

Despite a quote I may share on Facebook about finding balance, developing patience, and riding big waves of change like a surfer, in my own life I can be a floundering mess.  I am controlling and highly resistant to change.  I ruminate and overthink and suffer from anxiety and melancholy that can be extremely hard to deal with.  Also–waves freak me out.  I share posts, quotes and ideas that inspire me, that make me want to try to overcome my limitations and resistances.  But they are not me; I am not a master of these concepts.  It’s like patience and vulnerability and non-attachment are more words on my radar than qualities I exhibit in my daily life.

Despite a photo I may post on Instagram demonstrating my successful handstand/backbend/arm balance, it might have taken me 10 “timer camera” attempts to get that shot.  I find the yoga selfie process a humbling and eye-opening one.  Sometimes I can’t believe how wide the gap really is between what I feel like in a pose and what I look like in a pose.  These photographs can offer me visual feedback on my form, and help me turn towards places where there is more work to do.  And sometimes they stand as proof of a moment of success, and I feel good about them.  But rarely are they captures of ease and effortlessness, magical floating and endless holding.  On the cutting room floor there is sweating.  And falling, and ugly faces and muffin tops.  (A friend recently shared an article that argued that these “perfect pose” Instagram posts can be isolating and discouraging to beginners.  My response to that idea was that, just as with any body movement practice, there’s a process and what we share is from a moment further down the process continuum.  I don’t believe that a marathoner who posts a pic of her/himself crossing the finish line would intimidate beginners, or have them believe that running just isn’t for them.  I would hope that they could understand that it’s just what comes later, if there’s practice.  But it never hurts to pull back the curtain and show that just because I can capture a moment in a pose doesn’t mean the work is over, or that it didn’t take multiple attempts to get there.  Or that after 16 years of practice, I can still churn out seemingly endless photos that are just way too embarrassing to upload.)

Despite the posts I share promoting my great yoga gigs (teaching at beautiful studios, in parks, at festivals), I still have a lot of insecurity about my place in yoga education in this city.  I still worry, was that class any good? or will anyone come?  I wonder how I stack up against others who have been teaching as long as I have, if I’ll ever be able to host a retreat or take part in leading a teacher training.  Do I really have anything special to offer?  I felt this imposter syndrome when I was an academic, and I continue to struggle with it now.  I don’t feel as if I “made it”, but I also realize that I probably won’t ever feel this way, no matter what I’m doing.  The sure-footedness I put forth online is really another virtual goal post: I want to be as confident as I am able to suggest that I am.

I catch myself lurking on other people’s profile pages, wistfully imagining that my life might someday be that calm, creative, spontaneous, inspired, important.  I fall into the trap of believing that the persona is the person all the time.  Sometimes when people comment on my posts I can see that there has been a misreading and I know it’s because I’ve been misleading.  Yes, I am lucky.  Yes, I have a lot to be grateful for.  But just because I don’t promote posts about deeper struggles or sadness or self-doubt or shame doesn’t mean they don’t dog me too.  And just because my asana fails don’t flood my feed doesn’t mean they aren’t as ubiquitous (or more so) than the ones that do.  We need to stop buying into the images of perfection, of “she’s got it together-ness”, of comparing our very real and complex lives to half-revealed truths.

Here’s some subtext next time you’re looking at a filtered photograph of a lithe body rocking pincha at the beach–or next time you come across a Rumi quote:

Yogi–just as messed up as everyone else.

 

 

 

All content by Lisa Veronese. Please do not publish or copy my material without my consent.