When I was growing up, I was a dancer. I loved everything about my weekly ballet lessons. I loved the beautiful music and romantic story lines. I loved the discipline of technical lessons. I especially loved the experience of working with a choreographer to create a brand new piece of art. Dancing became a powerful form of full bodied, soul expression for me.
Unfortunately, though my heart was 100% in it, I wasn't the best in my group. I wasn't short. And I wasn't the skinniest. I certainly wasn't a natural born dancer. In fact, my mom tells me now that she really thought she was wasting her money when I would clumsily dance through the kitchen.
As a teenager, I took all of this in along with the messages the greater world was broadcasting, and I built it all up inside to mean that my body was wrong. That it was flawed for its height and lack of dancing prowess. And as you can imagine, believing that was really painful for me.
When I came to yoga, my thoughts really started to change. In yoga, there's no one "right" body type (I promise that's true, no matter what you see on Instagram!) You can't be too anything to practice yoga, and the idea of being the "best" isn't meant to come on the mat with you. The entire atmosphere in the studio where I started my practice was one of acceptance and support - something I'd deeply missed in my years as a dancer.
Yoga wants to remind you that rather than being flawed you are actually Well Made. The universe doesn't make mistakes and all of your idiosyncrasies, "imperfections", lumps, bumps, scars, and grooves are exactly as they are meant to be. They make you who you are, and you are Well Made.
If you forget that you are well-made, it is a short step to fall into self-judgement. It can also lead you to treating yourself poorly. And if you are poorly made, and flawed, it becomes easier to think there is something wrong with you that can never be fixed and to believe others see you the same way. That will teach you to hold yourself apart from others - it can lead to disconnection and loneliness. It feels awful.
Yoga sees this as a problem of forgetfulness. When you believe yourself to be flawed you have forgotten your essential Well Made-ness. So when you come to the yoga mat you come to clear away layers of accumulated forgetfulness that could be lodged in your body, your breath, your thoughts, and your heart so that you can remember the truth of who you are. Instead, we practice yoga to clear the layers of forgetfulness in your body, breath, thoughts and heart so that the truth of your essence can shine though. We practice to affirm our well made-ness, not to beat ourselves down. By remembering yourself as Well Made, you move closer to your Heart, closer to your true essence which is Joy. And that is the highest purpose of practicing yoga.
I don’t take formal dance classes anymore, but occasionally I’ll make it to a dance-like class at the gym. Now when I dance it isn’t to try to prove anything or to perform. It is for my heart and soul. And I’m so grateful that my yoga practice keeps teaching me how well -made I am because it means I can keep on dancing for the rest of my life, no matter what my body looks like.
Well Made Practice: In this very moment, take a breath and drop into your body. Feel the innate goodness of your body. Drink in the remembrance that you are Well Made. If there is a particular part that feels flawed, send that area breath, acceptance, and love.
Did you try it? Leave a comment below to tell me how it goes!