“Pull out from the depths those thoughts that you do not understand, and spread them out in the sunlight and know the meaning of them.” [E.M. Forster, A Room With A View]
As a former ballet dancer my entire childhood, young adult life, and early career were entrenched in competition. Everything was a competition. We were even competitive about how perfect our hair looked for technique class. My hairline actually started to recede when I was a teenager because I pulled it so tight when it was wet into a bun and used so much hairspray you could kill a man with it’s fumes. Everything I did was inspected under a microscope. So, I made sure I was perfect. All day, every day. This shaped my being.
When something becomes so ingrained in who you are, it’s really hard to even notice it. Yoga pulled that right up to the surface for me when I began a daily practice, spread it out in the light and made me woefully aware of the fact that I was the most competitive bitch I’d ever met.
So, I began to work on myself. For a while, I continued to pride myself on being “the best at yoga". I was really flexible and could totally nail any posture thrown my way. My horse pose was clearly the best horse pose in the room. Natarajasna, you say? Ha. Dancer’s pose was MADE for me. Jesus Christ. It pains me to even remember that I used to have those thoughts. My practice became all about being the best at yoga, and eventually I just grew tired of myself. I annoyed myself. I could not step into a class without having that mindset. So, I just stopped going to public classes altogether. I temporarily pulled away from my community and began to practice alone at home. I turned away from my mirror and began to just move and flow and do what felt good.
During this time, a lot within me changed. Not only did my personal practice majorly evolve (thank God), but my practice as a teacher evolved as well. I started to teach more from my heart. I began teaching from a vulnerable place, a place where I exposed all of my own bullshit so that way my students could connect to the real me. Not the instagram picture perfect Ellie in a 180 degree standing split. No. Me. Like all the yucky parts of me that I didn’t want to admit, but needed to get off my chest. It was time to come clean that I wasn’t perfect.
And finally it just started to work. I stopped caring about being the best at yoga. I stopped caring about perfecting the asana. I stopped feeling self conscious about being the teacher in someone else’s class and dropping into a child’s pose when my body was cooked. I just stopped giving a shit about perfection and being “the best". I don’t know when it happened, but it just sort of came to be, and I feel so much….lighter.
There will always be someone bendier, skinnier, stronger, taller, whateverer than you so it’s time to get real about who you are, stop giving a fuck about what anyone thinks and owning who you are, because you are the only you and you are amazing, trust me. I see it.
So now I dare you, to pull out your deepest and darkest feelings. Perhaps you don’t understand them yet. Allow yoga to help you spread them out in the sunlight and begin to understand. Begin to change, begin to grow.