The Partial Yoga Narrative.
We are all human and we all have a story to tell. The good and the bad, interspersed with laughter, tears, joy and heartbreak. We cannot know one without the other. Without sadness, happiness does not exist. Without anger, kindness cannot be practiced.
If life is both good and bad, why do our negative life stories dominate our self-portrayal within the world of yoga?
Please do not misunderstand me—I am not saying that we should only share our happy moments and the good stuff that has brought us to our yoga practice. What I'm saying is that we should talk about our entire experience.
It's easy to default to stories of hardship, self-loathing, and sickness when explaining how we found the practice of yoga; I have fallen victim to this just as much as anyone else. But let me ask you this—how often do we talk about the positive life moments that have led us to the mat? Why do we sometimes omit the beauty within the hardship?
Sharing our stories of difficulty and heartbreak is cathartic and necessary for healing and growth. But if hardship becomes the predominant perspective shared when discussing yogic journeys, are we being entirely truthful? In order to be a yogi, is it mandatory that we've gone through significant struggle?
I don't know about you, but I want the entire story, not just a partial narrative. And no, pain is not a prerequisite.
Some people might feel more comfortable talking about sadness than happiness. For others, maybe pain has been felt more deeply than love, therefore it feels more important to share. Or possibly someone feels undeserving of joy? If so, that's something to investigate. Whatever the reason, I imagine Patanjali did not believe that we needed to suffer endlessly on our path to liberation and would be delighted to hear about moments of laughter and beauty along the way.
So, when we're talking about our journey through the practice of yoga, let's be sure to paint the entire picture, good and bad... Tell me about the love that led to the heartbreak. I want to know about the desire to feel confidant and strong that helped you overcome self-loathing. Speak to me about the beauty of being healthy before you got sick, and the strength of your desire to be healthy again. Or just tell me about your happiness, in addition to your sadness.
Because where there is darkness, there is light. Yoga is both.