Authenticity, authentic, words we hear thrown around often nowadays, especially I have found, in the yoga world. Constant posts about ' the true self ' , 'love and light', and so on, and although these sayings/phrases do have meaning, sometimes of late I am not sure if the meaning is a little mixed up or misleading, especially when synced alongside some extremely glamourous, well edited Instagram pictures. Pictures capturing amazing asana photos, crazy postures at sunset balanced on the edge of a roof ( I mean seriously, is that available to everyone as we so often say yoga is??), or domestic bliss...magazine worthy households with children enjoying messy crafts without so much of a splodge of paint on their clothes! Amazing!!
Now, please don't misunderstand me, I have been as swept up the land of Instagram just as much as the next person, moving all my furniture to show off my calm space and forcing my amazing Photographer daughter (only 12) to take endless pictures of a pose so I can find the best one for my page, to prove I can do it amazingly... and possibly on the edge of a roof , you never know!
This has and may continue to do so, gained several followers to my Instagram page, and 'likes' on posts, but where is it really getting me?
I recently read a fabulous book by @clarepooley called 'The authenticity project' (if you have not already I highly recommend giving it a read). The story follows several characters all showing off their 'best self' yet behind the scenes are miserable and struggling to keep up the pretence.
Suddenly it hit home, that this is EXACTLY how I have been feel of late. I have been feeling drained and agitated and even yoga, my faithful go to has not been helping, and until reading this book I have been unable to figure out why, but now, I have got there. It has become a chore, it has lost its spiritual base for me and become nothing but a mass of deep poses and posts that do not really mean anything.
All this Instagram stuff is just not me! I mean, I love Instagram, of course I do, but I do not love this endless stream of meaningless posts I have somehow been feeling I need to do in order to make my yoga practice ' authentic' and yoga teacher worthy, when in reality it was far more authentic previously.
Pre- instagram yoga teacher page, I practiced daily, really daily. I monitored my progress on the effects the practice had on my body, the strength I gained and the immunity I boost I felt, rather than how many followers engaged with my post. I used breathwork naturally without even thinking, during stressful situations and always stretched out my body at the beginning and end of the day.
Recently however that has not been quite the same for me. I have still practiced daily but it has not been anywhere near as meaningful or effective as it once was.
So, after my enlightenment (no pun intended), I took a step back, a break from classes and Instagram to try to find my love again. I have practiced only what has felt right for my body and mind, and not even contemplated a picture, I have read some yoga lit' and thought long and hard about what actually matters to me, what about yoga is important to me and that I want to encourage in my sessions, and about things in general that I enjoy and want to spend time on. Thankfully I feel I am on my way to finding the heart of my practice once again.
Now that I have, I am determined not to lose it as clearly along with that goes my mind and sanity! So I will continue to post on Instagram, but only when I feel I have something worthy to post and hopefully some of those pictures will be aesthetically pleasing, but its unlikely my grid posts will follow any amazing layout pattern, the filters will probably change, I'll sometimes be in my scruffs, and guaranteed there will be a toy or two in the background.
Maybe this will lose me a follow or a 100 followers but ill lose the stress along with it, Ill know in my heart I'm being true and hopefully letting those of us who don't have a perfect house or deep, deep, backbends, or have to practise with little ones crawling under our downward dogs, know that you are able to practice and love yoga, and your practise is just that, its yours, its about only how it feels to you and not how it looks to others.
Maybe once we have mastered this on the mat, we can begin to develop the authenticity skill off the mat.