It was one of those magical classes where all the students seemed to breathe as one and I was simply following in the wake of Shakti as she led us where to go next. It was a quiet morning, fewer students than most weeks, all women, and the median age had to be at least 60, probably higher. Not the usual group that comes together to work it out on Fridays in the class I teach at the gym.
No, there was definitely something magical and different about this class. They brought loving attention into each and every action. And the words that poured through me, guided them into deeper and deeper connection with Life. We all felt it.
After class, one of the women spoke with me. “That was a pretty class. The moves were pretty is what I’m trying to say.” She hesitated like this next part wasn’t ok, but she said it anyway. “I felt pretty doing those poses.”
She hugged me and went out into the rest of her busy day.
I felt pretty. I felt pretty. That comment has stuck with me since that day. I felt pretty. It was such a simple thing to say and yet such a big thing.
I remember when I used to go to a yoga class and feel beautiful in the postures. My body felt like an instrument of Divine expression. I could feel waves of Shakti moving through it, and softness and ease in my face. I felt that I was so beautiful. I know that had largely to do with the way I was instructed, but also with how I received instruction, let it land, and be expressed through me.
These days, that clarity of expression is often choked out by my perfectionistic need to “do it right” or “prove that I know what I’m doing” because I’m the teacher. I don’t spend as much time pausing, feeling, receiving, and flowing with the inner Shakti. And I’m realizing I miss it.
It is a powerful experience to come out of the rigors of life, step on the mat, and feel your innate beauty being revealed. To feel and know yourself as beautiful builds inner reserve, resilience, and self-love to carry off the mat, back into the (often) dullness of reality.
Where else do you pause to see yourself and your own innate beauty? To see that your Beauty has nothing to do with your outfit, your age, your hairstyle, or anything else from the outside? Where do you remember your Beauty is an expression of the magnificence of Life that flows through your blood, extends into your bones and every wondrous fiber of your being? Nowhere. Nowhere for me at least. Everywhere else I look for my own beauty is in comparison with someone else - a friend, or a magazine, or myself ten years ago. I’m often looking for my beauty to be confirmed by someone else. So finding the place where you can notice your own true beauty is no small thing.
The session that day was powerful for that student because it was not about waiting to be noticed by someone else. It was about her noticing herself.
We have done a terrible disservice to women in our culture by making them believe that beauty belongs to the young, thin, white and perfect that can only exist on Photoshop. When we believe that, it limits us. It traps us into trying over and over again to achieve something that we were never, ever meant to be in the first place. It tricks us into forgetting who we are.
Who we are is infinite diversity. Who we are is infinite strength and creativity. Who we are is Life and the mothers of Life. When we confine ourselves to definitions of beauty that we see in magazines, we forget all of this goodness. We forget our innate Divine Beauty that cannot be taken away.
Let’s remember together and remind each other when we forget. The woman who spoke to me that day - probably at least 65 - felt pretty for those 75 minutes. Not because of her dress or her weight or her toenail polish. She felt pretty because she felt Shakti in her body and she let herself move as an expression of Life.
And because she FELT it, and she SAW it within herself - she WAS Beautiful. Beauty is not a measurement, beauty is a feeling. If you feel it - you are it.
Let’s help each other feel it more and more often by seeing it in each other rather than tearing each other down. Let’s see it in the other’s eyes, in the other’s hearts, in the lines on the other’s faces, the gray hairs, and the stories of life lived.
Most importantly, let’s see it in ourselves and celebrate it. It’s not what we put on. We ARE innately beautiful expressions of the one Divine Light.