Yogi Assignment: Individuality
It’s rare to meet someone with a true sense of individuality. People who don’t fit the mold are often those who have been rejected by the herd. They walk alone, sometimes wounded, often forgotten, until they find their rhythm and purpose, with or without other people behind them. I believe in many ways every yogi feels like an outsider at times. It’s the sense of not fitting in that often drives you to search for something else, something bigger to fill your heart. This week’s Yogi Assignment is Individuality.
No matter how big the yoga works gets the spiritual path is essentially a solitary one. You walk alone, putting in the work of practice over many years. No one can do it for you, even though others may inspire or support you. Yoga is direct relationship between your soul and the Divine. You must search for the truth within yourself if you want to taste the elusive state of Samadhi.
When I first started yoga I loved the feeling of belonging to something special, a community united by sincere spiritual seeking. There were people of all shapes, sizes and ages in class. When I look back one thing I can see bound us all together is the choice to choose something different than the defined path outlined by societal standards. We all in one way or another felt alienated from the mainstream dream of happiness and decided to choose the less traveled path. We were hungry for truth, searching for meaning in an empty world, and desperate to drink from the source. The only qualification to enter the sacred realm of the yogis was practice. You just had to practice.
I dug out an old bikini top and boy shorts for my first yoga class. It wasn’t about what you were wearing, it was about bearing all your heart and all your soul in blood, sweat and tears. Yoga is worshipping at the innermost temple of the spirit. To enter the inner domain you need integrity, humility and reverence. You don’t need the perfect outfit.
It’s easy to romanticize the past and lament about a by-gone era of purity. It would be wrong to think that the past was perfect. Life is just not that black and white. But something in me questions the “perfection” I see in the carefully constructed imagery I see in the yoga world these days. Yogis online appear to have a uniform that standardizes how to dress and style their appearance. There seems to be one style, one look that is taking over. When I look at “transformation” pics sometimes what changes the most is the outfit. It’s like the person went from being normal to professional and they got their official uniform in the mail. It reminds of the clone army of storm troopers in Star Wars—a sea of yogi-clones all looking and dressing the same invading my social media feed with a message to conform, to join, or else…
Maybe I’m to blame for that too. You could say that all my images are too perfect and that I have a “uniform”. People know me for the controversy around my small shorts afterall. The irony isn’t lost of me. I do sometimes share live unedited practices to show an honest, non-glamorous look inside the daily reality of practice. I founded Omstars as a home for the true spiritual practice online. I try and hold the torch of yoga with as much integrity as possible. I try live in such a way that is appropriate of the immense honor and privilege of carrying the torch of yoga forward to future generations.
And here I am, years later. I’ve been through the ringer a few times and I’ve kept practicing. In my heart I’ve always stayed true to myself. And really, when the dust settles, I’m just me, the same girl in a slightly newer bikini top and boy shorts, putting all my heart and soul into the practice. The difference is in my heart, not in the leggings! I’m happy, complete, whole, and I don’t need to buy in to anyone’s imagery. I carry the inexhaustible flame of yoga in my heart.
So, for this week, I want you to take time to connect with yourself, love yourself and ultimately just be yourself. Notice if you feel the need to conform, to join, to fit someone else’s mold and turn your attention inward. Let the spiritual strength of yoga carve out a niche in the world that is made just for you. Don’t let yourself, your most valuable possessions, your Divinely created, beautifully blessed self, get lost. Your energy signature is unique. There is no one else who can be you.