Yoga: To Be Seen, Or To See Yourself?

A few weeks ago, I was approached by Lululemon to participate in their “25 Days of Yoga”: for each day in December, a yogi will be featured as a live window display, practicing yoga in the Newbury Street storefront.  Excited to be offered this opportunity, I quickly agreed and selected last night as my session time.

A few hours before this window practice, however, I started feeling…odd.  Off.  Like the decision to flaunt myself to Newbury Street and its holiday passers-by was a big mistake.

When I was about to head out, I nervously glanced at myself in the mirror.  I don’t normally wear much make-up when I practice or teach (though it would be a rare sight to catch me in public without at least a swipe of mascara), but I felt self-conscious about my appearance and swiftly added a lil’ extra cover-up and blush.  Then I realized: I’m not wearing one scrap of Lululemon!  Shoot.  I scoured my apartment for the one pair of Lulu yoga pants which I stole- um, borrowed?- from my Mom (thanks Ma!)  I remembered that I sold my only two Lulu shirts in consignment a few weeks ago (a girl’s gotta eat!) Ah well.  I left home feeling jittery, self-conscious, and slightly nervous.

Yogis talk a lot about intention.  An intention is different than a goal; when you set a goal, you envision a future outcome you would like to achieve, and then work hard to meet that goal.  Intentions are not concerned with the future, but speak to a way of being in the present moment, the here and now.

As I walked down Newbury Street, I asked myself what my intention was for this practice.  Was it to show off my skills, flaunt myself, boost my ego?  No.  Then why was I here?  Once the answer slowly arose within me, it comforted me and my nervousness disappeared.

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Newbury Street on a snowy Tuesday evening

My intention last night was twofold: to practice courage and have fun.

I came across this quote by Brené Brown the other day:

“Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language- it’s from the Latin word ‘cor’, meaning heart- and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.”

I feel most myself when I practice yoga.  What an act of courage then, to be that vulnerable while on display for all the world (so it seemed) to see!  Secondly, I was there to enjoy the experience, lighten up, and have fun!  What cooler way to spend a Tuesday evening than practicing yoga as I gazed out on the soft snow falling on Boston?

The practice was a constant test to my ego; did I really need to include handstands, headstand, Urdhva Dhanurasana, Pincha Mayurasana, ALL in one practice?  Definitely not, but I did anyways. I realized as I kicked up into my fourth handstand that I was showing off.  Once I recognized that my ego was driving me, I stopped and rested, closing my eyes and gently drawing my awareness back to my breath.  It took courage to lie down on my mat, close my eyes, and let myself feel vulnerable to anyone watching.

At the end of the practice, I chatted with the (such friendly!) employees and gathered my belongings.  Walking back to my car, I smiled at the realization that there were probably far less people that saw me, or even cared what I was doing.  Because at the end of the day, we don’t practice to be seen by others.  We go to wipe away the barriers that we build inside so we can more clearly see our true Selves.

Sometimes, though, we practice yoga to just breathe, relax and have fun! 

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So thank you Lululemon for giving me this learning opportunity and to the staff members for being so friendly and welcoming.  Looking forward to seeing others practice in your window this month!

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4 thoughts on “Yoga: To Be Seen, Or To See Yourself?

  1. Beautiful post, Meg! I love that you explored the concept of courage here. Lesley just implemented an interdisciplinary seminar (think Civ, but more applicable) that explores the themes of courage, risk, and uncertainty. I was completely intrigued by the sample class I observed at our Open House this weekend, so it’s coincidental and enlightening to read your thoughts on the topic as well.

    I wish I could have stared at you through the window last night… I would have put your focus to the test 😉

    • oh my- that class would be perfect fodder for late-night common room chats!! how I miss those….Thanks for the comment – I would have loved to see yo face through that window!
      (and I’ll never forget the post-it notes: FOCUS!!!)
      XO

    • thanks B 🙂 it means a lot to hear you say that.

      I would love for you and heath and bridge get back to blogging! I miss your words and voices.

      (kudos for your use of 'moxie' – that word isn't used nearly as often as it should be.)

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