This week was BUSY, but full of lots of good things. We get the awesome chance to celebrate Thanksgiving twice this year. Yesterday, we had Thanksgiving with my side of the family, then later this week we’ll travel to spend actual Thanksgiving with his side of the family. Lots of good times and baby snuggles will be occurring and I am excited!
I love to bake, but I only do it when I know others will be eating it so I don’t eat them all. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the perfect opportunities to get some good baking time in – which is exactly what I did this past week (and will do again this week!).
For Thanksgiving round one I made pumpkin snickerdoodles and sweet potato cupcakes with toasted marshmallow frosting. Mmmmmm. I also provided a kale salad with honeycrisp and fennel, so I made some healthy choices, too. 😉
This week, I was walking my pup and catching up on my favorite podcast, Stuff Mom Never Told You. I just happened to be listening to their episode entitled “Little Miss Perfect”. If you’ve never listed to C & C, you’re really missing out. They have some GOOD stuff going on over there. Their typical episodes start out with some history on the topic, then they dive in to research and opinions and articles and all sorts of informed goodies. This episode was a follow up to a podcast on women and anxiety. The ladies (hello, ladies!,) were talking about how individuals who attempt to achieve perfection tend to experience more depression. Therefore, people who strive to be perfect are more susceptible to suicide.
What they were saying made a lot of sense to me, too. They discussed depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. Think about people with eating disorders – they typically obsess over every. single. thing. that goes in to their mouth. Individuals with anxiety fret over every. single. detail in their life. When we lose control over these things? We get depressed. It’s a vicious cycle.
It made me think about yoga as our society knows it today. I absolutely love Instagram. It is my all time favorite form of social media. I love taking pictures and I love sharing them. I love double clicking your pictures and seeing that little red heart. I love your dogs and cats and yoga poses
on the beach . I love Instagram so much I have two accounts – one for this blog and one for my personal stuff (as I have a very definite line between “blog professional” and “not professional”).
But what do I always see on Instagram? Flawless yoga pictures. Usually a beautiful girl in a bikini in the sand doing a wheel pose or a handstand. (And really, how do you guys not have your privates falling out of your bikinis in these? I mean, honestly. Teach me your secrets.) What pictures get the most likes on Instagram? Perfect yoga pictures.
Does this teach us how accepting yoga is? Would this lead someone – who have never practiced a savasana, let alone the splits – to want to practice yoga? My guess is no, not at all. And it’s a travesty.
To me, yoga is all about being in the present. It’s not about achieving the most perfect, hardest pose. Yoga has taught me to love my body, for all its flaws. My body works hard. Every day, it breathes. It digests. It pumps blood. It fights diseases and infections. It heals. Yoga has shown me that I can give it a little love for doing all these things for me. Give your muscles a little stretch.
But yoga is so much more than that, even. Yoga is about becoming one with your breath. Growing in your space. Clearing your head. Shedding negative light and breathing in positivity.
Is it awesome to knock a crow pose out of the park for the first time? Abso-freakin-lutely.
Is that the ultimate goal of practicing yoga? No. And if it is your goal, I would highly suggest you analyze your reasons for practicing yoga in the first place.
I wonder how this perception of yoga equaling perfection impacts our mental health. When yoga is practiced to relax but we have these perfectionist goals, can we really truly reap the benefits this practice has to offer? Glaring at the person on the mat next to you in class while she or he masters headstand is not going to help us feel better about ourselves.
Your mat is a sacred space. I hope it’s being used to grow in whatever way you need in that moment. I can’t tell you how many times my practice has been just child’s pose on my mat. If that’s what my body needs that day, that is what it gets.
I posted a #yogafail on to my Instagram this week. It made me laugh, which is why I shared it. But then I listened to this podcast and my brain just can’t turn these two connections off. I will continue to use Instagram as a means of encouraging others and sharing my practice struggles and joys. But I can guarantee that I will continue to be real and raw. I think that is exactly what our yoga community needs, and if it helps one individual who is wary of starting a yoga practice find confidence to start, then I will have accomplished something.
Anyway, these are my thoughts. I hope it made sense. Check out Stuff Mom Never Told You’s list of resources on the topic of perfectionism – and listen to their podcast if you haven’t yet! It’s greatness.
Until next time,
Happy OM’ing and namaste. ❤
How do you think perfectionism impacts your yoga practice?