Life. Yoga. Joy.
Inspiring a life with smiles...™
So tonight I had an awesome yoga class with a teacher I adore. She always brings a sense of fun and adventure to the class, while imparting wonderful knowledge about how our bodies work. She had a request from some of the students to focus on hip openers and core work, so we geared our practice tonight around those themes.
At one point in the class, she had us doing Pranayama aka "fire breath." It wasn't the first time we had done this exercise which involves taking in air, and then forcefully expelling it from our mouths in short quick bursts. It builds heat in the body, and I've always thought it was a great way to remember that you have muscles in your tummy!
At least I always thought it was great...until tonight. Suddenly I felt "silly" doing this exercise. In the midst of what was an otherwise empowering practice, I became self conscious about my body. Was my face red? Did I have enough strength to do this exercise? Was I even doing it right? Did I look silly?
Did I look silly? That one thought stopped me in my tracks (or rather in my breath). Looking "silly" has never really been a concern of mine. (If you don't believe me, feel free to click here to see the YouTube video I did for my seniors during my last year of teaching - a rewrite of the song "Let It Go.") So I found it interesting that this word would even pop into my mind.
Often in life we worry about how we might appear to others. Perhaps we change our looks to become more socially acceptable. Maybe we keep from sharing our views, our interests, our hopes, or our dreams because we are afraid that others may laugh or scoff at what we find important. When I was teaching high school students, I tried to incorporate activities that allowed them to be in front of their peers in a safe and comfortable environment, to help combat this fear of how others might perceive us. We did group activities (games, skits) and presentations (sometimes together, other times solo). I encouraged students to talk with me if they felt nervous getting up in front of others as I felt this was such a valuable life skill. Over and over again I heard variations of the same concern from students: "What if I look foolish?"
So here I am back in yoga class tonight with the same question swirling around my brain as I do Pranayama. I realize the question may be a larger indicator of where I am at in my life. I'm about to move across country in two months. I will be looking for work and potentially starting a whole new career from the ones (notice the plural) that I have had previously. I've deepened my yoga practice, started running, became a vegan, and even began this blog to share my ideas. Perhaps my fear has nothing to do with fire breathing. Maybe I am worried that these leaps I am taking might look "silly" as I am at an age when many of my peers have settled down into families and steady jobs. Here I am looking to change my life, travel more, expand my opportunities and skills. "Ahhhh yes," says my inner voice. "Now that is what the question 'Do I look silly?' is all about."
In that moment I realized that, amidst all the excitement at my next adventure, was this small fear of how it would look to my friends, peers, colleagues, and peeps. And with that epiphany the fear "poof" vanished. I had acknowledged it, embraced it, and (pardon my Elsa moment), let it go.
A little later in class, my teacher was showing us an alternate way to get out of a different pose and into its mirror image. "Now you may look a bit silly," she began. So of course, I had to try it...
May life allow you those moments to look silly, so you don't miss out on the fun.
Samantha Eve, a