I have been practicing yoga since 2010, have two certifications and one mentorship under my Lululemons, and have been teaching consistently for four years. And yet, I "can't" do Crow or hold a handstand away from the wall. Sometimes I feel like a fraud when students ask me, 'What's the best pose for (enter injury here)?' or ask me to critique their Scorpion pose that would take me 10 minutes in a steam room, a Swedish massage, and a glass of Malbec to contort my body into. But, week after week, class after class, I teach yoga. And to my surprise, my students actually deepen their practice.
Though I might not practice what I teach, I practice what I preach.
Yet, in the world of Insta-yogis and yoga-gymnastics, I struggle with my credibility. I once brought this up to my yoga teacher. A "real" one, who lived in a cave in the Himalayas, studied with other "real yogis," — the long-haired, half-naked type — and knows things. I expressed my insecurity that I "can't" do this or that and that I feel that it hinders my students' practice. He told me that just because someone can "do" yoga, it doesn't mean that they "do" yoga, if you know what I mean.
Though I might not practice what I teach, I practice what I preach. Our mats serve as the foundation to the greatest practice of all — life — and I want my students' souls to evolve as much, if not more, than their physical practices.
I couldn't care less how long you can rock that steady Tree pose. I care about what mantras you mentally repeat when you fall down and how many times you are willing to pick yourself back up. Trust me when I say that the falls you'll take in life are a lot harder than the ones on your yoga mat, so use your physical practice as an opportunity to deepen your spiritual practice. Learn how to clear your space of distractions — that which you speak and that which you hear — and ground yourself down, when the literal and figurative mat is pulled out from underneath you. Trees stand tall, and strong, and powerful, and bend when faced with temporary storms, and so should you.
Watch where the mind wanders when you feel off balance, catch yourself in a bind, or when sh*t gets really real in that five-breaths-too-long Chair pose. Are you in tune with what shifts you can make to feel good and do you feel empowered to make them? Do you take what you need and not what you want? If you need a block, a strap, or a Child's pose, own it. Learn how to make yourself feel good, feel peace, and feel free — no pose looks as good as self-care feels.
So, I "can't" do Crow pose. Handstand? Maybe one day. My practice may not be seen, but is intended to be heard and felt. I will use my voice, rather than my body, to empower you to be a yogi who can do both!