The other day I was thinking about my yoga practice. And I was thinking about how it often feels like a struggle. I don’t mean it’s a struggle to get myself to do it. I show up on my mat every morning, almost without exception (I mean, life happens; I do get sick and such). And when I get on that mat, I’m usually pretty excited. I’m ready for that flow!
And then I start.
And the internal battle commences. “Why can’t I do this?” “Why is my body being so stubborn?” “Why aren’t I strong enough?” “Why am I not flexible enough?” “Why am I so fucking scared!”
Alas, the internal comments aren’t all negative, or it wouldn’t be a battle at all. My yogi self soon speaks up. “Wow!” “Look what your body can do!” “No way you’re 37! You’re freaking strong!”
Ultimately, the comments end something like this. “Be proud of where you are.” “Be happy with what you’re capable of.” “Stop thinking, just do.”
And I end my practice feeling strong, competent, and exactly where I should be.
This is my yoga journey.
It’s been my journey for probably the last six months. It’s been a real battle some days. I think this is due to me being on the cusp of moving from one level of strength to another. Yet not quite there yet. The thing is — in the end, even after the moments in which I kinda want to cry on my mat, I always feel good. Refreshed. Impressed with myself for sticking it out. Impressed that this journey hasn’t beat me. Rather, this journey has taught me that sometimes life is a struggle. And that’s okay. Let it be a struggle. Let it be what it is. It’s not always supposed to be easy.
If it were always easy, I wouldn’t be nearly as excited to post those pictures on social media with tag lines that say things like, “I did it!!!” or “Look what I can do!” Because it would simply be easy. And I wouldn’t be so damn proud of myself.
My art is similar. Whether I be taking a photograph, editing a photo, or starting a painting, there are moments when I simply want to cry. When I wonder if I’ll ever be good enough. If I’ll ever create the photos I see in my mind. If I’ll ever create work that people consistently want to see.
But I keep working anyway. I keep editing. I create the awful edits and the awful photos, and I then I follow up the awful with the awesome (sometimes). I have moments of — wow, this is so good — followed by moments of — who am I kidding; I’m no artist! And then moments when my yogi self enters my artist self, and I remind myself, “Be proud of where you are. Stop thinking, just do.”
There’s something about yoga that carries into your every day life that is so beautiful. It’s the feeling of knowing you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. The feeling of accepting yourself as-is with no judgement. The understanding that with practice, all will come.
As an artist, that’s a beautiful thing. You have to keep doing the work. You have to keep editing or painting or writing or whatever it is that you do. You have to do it every day, and you have to let go of judgement. Because if you don’t, you’ll never reach your full potential. And the world will miss out on all the beauty you have to offer.
So here’s my suggestion. If you’re a yogi — awesome. Use your yoga experience to push your creativity. Use it to remind you that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Use it to remind you to keep showing up. If you’re not a yogi, maybe you’d like to give it a try. And if you’re not a yogi because yoga is so not you, find something else in your life that challenges you in a similar way, something that you both struggle with and triumph over, and use that as a your reminder. And remember that sometimes art is a struggle. And that’s okay. Because sometimes you have to struggle through the bad to get to to the great.