Updated: Sep 9, 2022
Yesterday while teaching at The Well, I used the word perfect a few times until I caught myself. Why did I keep saying perfect to describe their yoga postures?
Each student, each body, each personality having their own experience felt perfect. And to me, their poses individually looked perfect, for them.
As a yoga teacher, one of my greatest joys is being the conductor of energy for the room. I believe that is why it’s so important to go with the flow of the class as opposed to doing your own sequence or postures while in a room full of others. There is a method to the group experience. The way people move, breathe, sweat, laugh and curse. It’s all perfect because they are in their moment. They are letting go of what should be. While students might rebel or even get annoyed, the ones who stay in the moment, the ones who breathe and do what they can, they are in their perfect moment and I can see it. I respect it.
The idea of being perfect came to me a few weeks ago. I was cutting fruit at my kitchen counter and talking to myself. I actually said “I wish I was perfect” and that took me by surprise! What? Where did that come from? Since then, I’ve been working on this article for weeks, trying to understand the word and how we use it, abuse it and worship it.
For a while now, I’ve been wanting to produce pre-recorded videos for Soul & Steady and that’s probably why I wished I was perfect. If I was perfect, I wouldn’t be embarrassed of my body or my talent. If I was perfect then I will be able to press record and find my flow while making these videos and feel great. But obviously I am not perfect so who am I to make yoga videos?!
Immediately after the thought, I asked myself what does being perfect even mean? Whose body am I comparing myself with? Whose talent? Whose life?
And looking forward, if we feel that we need to be perfect, will we be afraid to ask for help? Even if we are new at something, do we place perfection too high on our list that we forget that everything takes time. Step by step, inch by inch, breath by breath. Those videos will change throughout the years just like my teaching has. Just like my writing, my guitar playing, my connection with my heart and soul. It all takes our awareness and patience.
How many of us misplace our individuality because we want others to see us as perfect so we play a role? We love the praise from others so we lose ourselves in their story.
Here is a story I’d like to share with you. It’s about a celebrity couple whom I don’t know personally but for whatever reason, I looked at their relationship as if it was perfect. The husband is a tattoo artist whom I bought a collection of letterpress prints titled “A lot of Living To Do”. He creates cool skulls and he did a fundraiser for an art school program on the LES in NYC. It was the first piece of art that I bought for my new apartment freshly out of my marriage.
He was married to a Hollywood actress and director. They were raising their kids in the city and seemed to be so perfect. She was on a NY Magazine cover with tattoos drawn on her body and again, so perfect and stylish, to me. This past year, they shared on social media that they are divorcing but remaining close as a family. That broke my idea of their perfect relationship. That changed my view on their perfect life.
The story of the subject isn’t always what it seems. From relationships to jobs. From presidents to priests. Turns out lots of yoga gurus were disrespectful and didn’t practice non-harming others. Celebrity couples separate. Other people’s lives aren’t perfect and yet why do we continue to think that they are?
I think about women’ bodies and the media. Every decade, every year there is a new body type that is perfect. Marilyn Monroe, Jennifer Aniston, the supermodels, Gwen Stefani in the years of No Doubt for goodness sake. Images of women's bodies that we in turn compare ourselves to become a standard of expectation. We must not be perfect because we don't look like that.
If I was perfect last year, does that give me the necessary room to grow into this year? Or if I have a bad day, do I compare myself to when I was having a good day? Do we use the benchmark of perfect to keep us from enjoying what we are doing? I hope not because that will be a waste of time and energy.
Looking back at my life, there is so much growth to be proud of. So many challenges that I had to face, so many new hobbies that I added to my life. Thank goodness we don’t stop ourselves from doing what we want to do because we are afraid of not being perfect. Let that be our take away. Let's not stop living our dreams because we aren't so called perfect.
What if we stop comparing ourselves and instead look for those perfect moments in life, the ones that take our breath away. The ones that fill us up with light and joy. I think the touch of a lover is perfect. The hug from a child is perfect. The affections from a dog is perfect. The sound of breath in a yoga class is perfect.
I’d like us to keep our relationships, body, career, home, car, clothes out of the conversation. I’d like to keep growing and not be afraid of failing, being a beginner or sounding dumb. I’d like to film these videos once and for all and not be afraid that the production value isn’t perfect or my body isn’t perfect.
Life isn’t perfect. And maybe if we can let go of being perfect, we can loosen up, create what we desire and finally breathe. Who is with me?