I am not just talking about those “yoga teacher rockstars” (yes they exist, with groupies and everything!). I am talking about real-life, torn-up jeans wearing, guitar slinging, tattooed ROCKSTARS. Or, at least that’s what I wanted while I was at Governor’s Ball a few weeks ago, watching Alison Mosshart of The Kills wail her heart out at an unearthly decibel.
I have never been one for large drunk crowds of people and typically avoid situations where any or all of my senses feel like they are going to explode. So when my boyfriend bought me tickets for Governor’s Ball last month, I had to feign excitement by saying things like “ gosh, I am super amped for the festival tomorrow!” and “gee whiz, I am pumped to hear some live music!”.
Fast forward to me standing in a sea of people, raising my hands in the air like I just didn’t care, tapping my foot with an irresistible urge to jump and scream and growl and be heard. There was something about the way Alison Mosshart sang- loud and guttural; something about those steady, hard drums (ahem - root chakra!); something in her black attire, bleach blond hair and cherry red lipstick that was dark, urgent and necessary. As I watched The Kills perform, I felt like I was a 15 year old girl again- sitting in my bedroom, listening to Nine Inch Nails and painting my CD player speakers with Revlon Vampire Red nail polish. It was passionate and dramatic and I liked it. I needed it.
Sometimes my yoga practice doesn’t feel so dramatic. When I move my body on my mat it is slow, deliberate, and controlled. On the best of days it is graceful and I feel strong and empowered. Other times it is heavy and messy and makes me want to cry. The fantastic thing for someone like me who is an introvert is that I get to practice my art on the privacy of my own mat - sometimes at home, sometimes under the guidance of my teachers.
Rockstars do it in front of millions. They dish up their heaviness and messiness and heartache right up on a giant stage with hot, bright lights on them. They are unafraid to be vulnerable, to dance around and whip their hair and sweat all over the place. They’ve got guts to sing their truth loud- even if it’s dark and ugly and uncomfortable.
I don’t like being uncomfortable. It’s really uncomfortable! And I especially don’t like to advertise my discomfort for the whole world to see. That is supremely uncomfortable.
In yoga we have the sanskrit word tapas, which means to burn or purify. My favorite translation of tapas is "the willingness to endure intensity for the sake of transformation". Even though my yoga practice isn’t loud and dramatic, it has taught me that being uncomfortable is one of the best ways to grow; that stepping past the edge of my own awkwardness is the only way to get beyond it. It’s shown me how to ease-fully stretch a tight muscle or work to strengthen a weak one until the challenge shifts; until the boundary of what is uncomfortable changes and I expand beyond my perceived limitation.
So, maybe it is the moments when one or more of my senses feels like it is about to explode that are the ones I should be seeking, or at least stop avoiding. Maybe I should go to more loud concerts. Maybe rather than avoiding Times Square on a hot summer day, I should walk directly through it. Or maybe I simply need to give myself permission to be dramatic once in a while - to stomp my feet, and shake my fists, and shout when I am excited or angry. And if someone sees or hears me being messy, maybe that’s okay too. Maybe that person will learn something about me in that moment. And perhaps that person will realize that they also have permission to be imperfect- to be seen and heard, even if it is dark and ugly and uncomfortable.Eb