March 29, 2013

Idolatry, Yoga & Life. ~ Cheryl Tan

Idolatry is an interesting phenomenon.

Since last weekend’s Yoga Conference in Toronto, I went home feeling weird.  Today, Waylon Lewis wrote about his opinion of the conference, and how people shouldn’t simply idolize the “superstar” yoga teachers but to find their own path in life.

So why was I feeling weird?

In the past year, since I started walking the path and questioning things in a more critical way, I began to understand that life isn’t about emulating another person’s actions or words as my own. Previously, as a young yoga practitioner, I wanted all my poses to be perfect. I would admire those who came into headstands, handstands, whatever stands in a flawless and graceful manner. Those were my goals. I did 30-day challenges (which failed miserably) and watched countless of yoga videos, hoping that I would be able to flip myself around in the same way. But, things have changed—at least my mentality has.

I questioned once about social conventions and the harmful effects they could have on us should we conform to them. Then, I was starting to understand that life isn’t simply black or white, but it’s a journey that can only be written by us. Why should we allow others to influence our actions, thoughts and words?

Why can’t we simply be who we are, and live as ethical, compassionate and loving beings?

When I walked out of the conference, I asked myself, why was I not excited that I finally got to meet Cyndi Lee and Waylon for the first time? Don’t get me wrong, I was really happy for the opportunity to share meaningful and insightful conversations with them (and practice with Cyndi for an entire day), but I wasn’t over the moon like a little girl who just got a piece of chocolate candy. Both of them inspire me in different ways.

What bothered me was the other messages other people could take home if they were just suckers for information and big stars in the yoga world. These yoga teachers have established themselves in the yoga world because they’ve developed a practice that’s unique to themselves. I don’t believe that you can put Seane Corne and Sadie Nardini in the same room and expect the students to get the best, mind-blowing (body-blowing) yoga practice of all time. To each his/her own. And perhaps that’s what all of us should realize: that instead of idolizing them, we should be inspired by them to define our own practice and path by our own means.

It doesn’t matter if I can’t do a headstand or handstand still—these two poses don’t define my character. Mastering them won’t make me a better person. It’s the path that I’m taking to get to those poses that matters. I’m no longer fixated to simply get those poses but instead allowing my body and mind to integrate with each other and find balance within myself. And, through this, I know that I’ll get there eventually. It may not be perfect, but hey, who in the world is to define what perfect is?

And like my friend said:

“We’re always evolving as individuals, and that’s how our practice should be too. It’s the baby steps that matter the most, not the ultimate goal. So, hell with idolatry in the yoga world (or in life). Be who you are, and seriously, isn’t that what life is all about?”

This article originally appeared on the author’s blog, and is being reprinted here with permission from the author.

Cheryl Tan is a Creative troublemaker, engager, inspirer, adventure seeker, risk taker, traveller, yogini, baker, knitter, and aspiring social entrepreneur. A Singaporean by birth, she’s a world citizen at heart. Currently in Toronto, Canada, Cheryl enjoys good company with a glass of wine. You can connect with her on Twitter or her blog.




Like elephant Yoga on Facebook

Ed: K.Macku/Kate Bartolotta

Read 1 Comment and Reply

Read 1 comment and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Elephant journal  |  Contribution: 1,375,490