The first time I met Ana Forrest (creatrix of Forrest Yoga) was at an event for her book, Fierce Medicine, where she spoke and signed copies of the book. I nervously waited in line to meet the woman whose teachings had been so powerful in my life. I walked up to the table she was sitting at and stumbled right into it, knocking it in to her. "Oh, I'm so sorry!" I squeaked. Then I knocked her cup over. "Sorry again." I was dying of embarrassment. She was so poised and calm and I was a hot mess. We chatted while she signed my book then she handed it back and I walked away.
When I opened the cover to see what she wrote I was crushed. I was hoping for something strong and catchy like "Go Deeper" or "Trust your inner strength." Instead I got this.
I was indignant: "I don't apologize that much. That was just an accident.”
I was embarrassed: "I sound like a loser. I bet she thinks I'm a loser."
I was mad. "How dare she say that! Of course I think I deserve to take up space."
That was 3 years ago and I think her message is only now starting to sink in. She didn't think I was a loser or weak, she saw right through my shields to my inner strength as well as all the ways I was keeping myself small in fear of not being enough and not being liked. This continues to be a lesson - it is ok to take up space. I don’t need to apologize for what I am (or what I am not). I am enough. . . and so are you.
And yet how often do we keep ourselves small and hidden or apologize for who we are (or what we’re not)? We do this so often and in so many ways, both on our mats and off, it’s become second nature.
How many times have you:
- Kept quiet or played small/inoffensive to be liked or avoid upsetting someone?
- Set up in the back of class so no one can see or judge you?
- Not asked a question to avoid looking stupid?
- Refused to try a new pose or activity for fear of failing/being laughed at?
- Not asked for something you wanted for fear of being rejected?
- Said “sorry” without even thinking about it to keep peace?
Why do we do this?!?
We want to be liked; it’s in our nature. We want to feel loved, appreciated and accepted and to avoid being judged, ridiculed or shunned. Somehow along the way though we’re taught that it’s not who we innately are that makes us worthy of being loved and accepted but rather our achievements and ability to measure up against the standards of perfection society has set for us. So we put up shields, hiding the parts of us that we judge as weak, weird, or not enough. We place every action, conversation, relationship under a microscope, tearing apart what we said, what we wore, what we did, judging ourselves before anyone else can (and much, MUCH more harshly). We become so trapped by who we “should” be, we’re unable to enjoy who we are.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
DISOBEY! Disobey the voice that whispers you that you really aren’t good/smart/pretty/funny/thin enough. Be your brightest, sparkliest, crazy, unique self and know that by doing so, not only will you attract the people who will love you just the way you are but you give other people permission to let their inner beauty shine too. Be willing to risk being you.
If this is too big or scary to embrace fully, start small. Let your mat be a place where you can be all of you. Where you can fall over or apart and begin to experience how good it feels to be simply and unapologetically you. My classes will always offer a safe space where you are encouraged to feel, to honor your own process and body and grow your connection to your authentic self.
Show up. Take risks. Take up space. Fall down, get up and keep on going. Be you and don’t apologize for it. You are enough. More than enough. Way more awesome and delightfully more interesting than enough.