The Power of Imperfection

Imperfection, my flaws, my health, everything that I used to consider “bad” about myself is what brought me to yoga.

Autoimmune issues and an enthusiastic doctor who said “you should try yoga” landed me in my first yoga class.   My first class was with the owner Honest Soul Yoga, and it was a hot vinyasa flow. It was hard, and I was in pain for a month after that damn class.

I swore I wasn’t coming back. But, a month later, I returned. I did it.

I came back.

I was processing a separation from my ex husband and desperate for healing time. I knew I needed the time on the mat, and despite it being painful I needed to work my body physically.

Fast forward about a year, and I was shocked by my sister’s an ovarian cancer diagnosis. At the time I was in yoga teacher  training. I had followed my intuition, and I felt I NEEDED to be in this training. I felt insecure, like everyone around me was in amazing physical shape, and I was just an average girl went through the entire first teacher training class unsure if I would continue. Despite battling feelings of my own worthiness to be in the class, I came back. I allowed my intuition win over my insecurity, and I was hooked.

Training took a lot out of me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I juggled a a full time job, training, and care for my sister who at that time moved in with me. To add to matters, training  reminded me of everything I thought was WRONG with me.  What if I have to handstand? Yeah right.  How could I possibly teach? My chaturanga was crap.

As I continued on my yoga journey I got curious, and brave, and experimented with my practice.  I used props, and figured out how to make the pose work for me, not the other way around.  I learned to focused on breath, and gave myself permission to close my eyes and move. I still felt self conscious. Certainly my knee pained from arthritis didn’t bend as deeply as it ‘should’ in a Warrior, and of course I needed that damn bolster under my hip in resting half pigeon.

And all the other stuff, the non-physical stuff, crept in.

Doubt about whether or not I was spiritual enough to practice yoga.
Frustration with not being able to do this pose or that pose.
Feeling anxious.
I was motionally messy.
I felt frustrated with my inability to pick a path for my yoga business.
I was grieving.
You name it, I felt it.
I judged myself and had a constant feeling of I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

But I learned to let go slowly.

And now, I am still here, with Yoga. I keep coming back.

Yoga has been a companion during the most trying moments of my life: the death of my sister, my divorce, a job change. Yoga helped me explore all forms of grief that I didn’t process right away.

My physical practice improves every single time I hit the mat, but I could care less now. It’s still not “perfect.”  I use props and sometimes I don’t. My own struggle and process is how I formed my message and evolved my teaching. I want my students to be curious and intrigued by their practice. I want them to embrace the challenge without constantly criticizing themselves. It’s not all about bringing ease, sometimes it’s that extra effort you take towards deepening a pose. Maybe forearm stand will never happen for a lot of yogis, but there are amazing steps in between.

None of us will ever be perfect.

Guess what? All those imperfections, they are what has made me the student and teacher I am today. I am still emotionally messy, but I’ve learned to handle anxiety and autoimmune issues like a champ. I can deal with loss. I have bad days and good days.  I’ve learned to honor and celebrate the good, and remember that ‘bad’ is temporary.   I have learned to live in the moment, celebrate my life, and my accomplishments.

All of my challenges molded me on and off the mat. I’m so grateful for these trials now, for they were really gifts.  My imperfection is my strength, and my resilience is a super power.

I get it now. Ultimately we are our own worst critics.  That’s human nature. We want to change everything we don’t like about ourselves, right away and if we can’t we judge ourselves harshly.

But, I encourage you to stick with it, and sit with it. Embrace your mess. Embrace whatever is “wrong with you,” because I promise you that you’ll find the power of your imperfection will lead you to your super power, too.

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Jennifer Downing is a “type A” personality in recovery. Yoga found her when she needed to make major life changes mentally, spiritually, and physically. She believes YOU can shift your perspective NOW and that your life’s journey is an amazing work in progress on and off the mat. Using yoga, meditation, and mindfulness Jennifer will help you find your practice that will leave you feeling balanced and optimistic. Jennifer completed her 200 hour training through HSY and also trained through ChildLight Yoga and Yoga for Cancer.