Originally posted on Finding Isvara on January 19th, 2017
Whether we want to or not, we create images in our head of how things should be; how people should behave based on our experiences and knowledge. We have expectations and we judge. Sometimes our expectations are valid, but most of the time, they are not.
When I say I practice yoga or that I teach yoga, people automatically place me in a box. They assume I have certain qualities and live by a certain standard. This phenomenon isn’t unique to the yoga world. Being perceived in a particular way because of your career or appearance is sometimes flattering but more often it is degrading.
You shouldn’t have to live up to someone else’s expectations and sometimes not even your own. Give yourself permission to be who you are. If you don’t like being placed in a box then don’t do it to others either. Don’t judge! There are many misconceptions about yoga, yoga practitioners, and yoga teachers. Here are five of the most common misconceptions I feel people have about me:
1. I don’t get angry
Of course, I get angry. Ask my husband or my children. Anger is just another emotion. When I was younger I would get angry, yell and give the silent treatment. This method doesn’t work. I can be angry and still treat you in an appropriate manner. I found a way to express and deal with my anger. Maybe yoga had something to do with it.
2. I am always calm
Yes, I know I seem very calm. I’m not loud nor do I speak out of turn. I am actually a nervous person. I stress easily and worry about how things are going to turn out, even though I know very well I can’t control the situation. I may not talk about it or say everything that's on my mind because I don’t want to feed the negative thoughts. What you see as calm and tranquil is actually me counting my breaths and remembering that this too shall pass.
3. I don’t drink alcohol
Okay, so maybe it’s written somewhere that yogis shouldn’t drink alcohol. But then again who am I to judge. Yoga is about balance; creating balance in your body, mind, and life. I don’t drink a lot, but I do enjoy a glass of Pinot Grigio.
4. I don’t eat meat
Ok, so this one is kind of true. In my early teens, I realized that I had a hard time digesting red meat. This had nothing to do with yoga. A few years ago I decided to make healthier and more conscious choices and reduced the amount of animal products I consume. I don’t want to put myself in the vegan or vegetarian box. I don’t want to decline every dinner invitation either.
5. I can do all kinds of crazy yoga postures
No, I can't. I practice Ashtanga yoga and many of the postures do require a great deal of flexibility and strength. I can do many advanced postures, but there are a whole lot I can’t and probably never will. When I first starting practicing yoga I couldn’t do most of the poses. It took me over four years to do a headstand. With constant practice, you can achieve amazing things.
What misconceptions do you have about others? What misconceptions do others have about you?