This post was created in the spirit of Healthy Narcissism Month on Techealthiest.
There’s no question that fitness has become a major fad. With #fitgirls #fitguys and #fitfams filling up social media feeds, it’s hard not to notice the unhealthy narcissistic trend that surrounds exercise, health, and wellness.
And to be honest, it’s kind of a huge turn-off.
Sure, seeing before and after selfies of someone’s fitness journey can be inspiring, but many times it’s almost incredibly intimidating.
The problem with the influx of #fitspo posts is the promotion of competition in fitness and the idea that everyone is judging you to make sure their #fitselflie will look better than yours.
Ok- enough with the hashtags (I promise).
As a yoga instructor, I constantly see and hear the influence of this “fitfam” social media craze.
“Oh you’re a yoga instructor? I’ve always wanted to try yoga, but I’m not flexible or strong enough so I would feel stupid.”
Nine times out of 10 that’s the response I get after telling people what I do for a living and it is absolutely heart-crushing.
Because here’s the thing…
Yoga is not a fitness fad.
In fact, it’s the furthest thing from it. While the actual start date of yoga is hard to determine due to the oral tradition it was passed down through, researchers have traced the development of yoga back at least 5,000 years, with many thinking it could actually be even 10,000 years old.
The practice of yoga hasn’t lasted this long because of well-filtered Instagram photos and fancy Lululemon pants. People have continued to practice yoga because it allows them to draw within and focus on themselves in the healthiest way possible.
One Healthy Dose of Narcissism Coming Right Up
Yoga literally provides the perfect dose of healthy narcissism.
When people in the western world think of yoga, they immediately focus on the poses and assume that’s what yoga is. But yoga is so much more than that.
Without getting too deep into the philosophy, one thing to realize is that the goal of yoga is not to become extraordinarily strong and flexible, though many people find that happens along the way. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, essentially the guidebook for yoga, he describes yoga as “the progressive quieting of the fluctuations of the mind” with the goal of finding one’s true self.
Patanjali lays out 8 limbs of yoga, or steps to a complete yoga practice. Each step serves as a guide to reach the 8th, which is basically complete enlightenment and understanding of oneself and connection to the universe.
The asana practice- or practice of yoga poses- is only the 3rd limb on the path. The asanas are used as a way to enliven and challenge the body in order to bring focus and peace to the mind, which is the goal of the later limbs of yoga.
A Breath of Fresh Narcissism
Think about it.
If you’re standing on one foot while simultaneously counting your inhales and exhales, you’re probably not thinking about what happened earlier in the day at work or what you’re making for dinner.
Practicing yoga poses allows you to quiet your mind, draw inward, and start to get in touch with what makes you feel whole. It creates space for you to connect to your intuition and figure out what is working in your life and what needs adjusting. It helps you to understand what will make you truly happy.
So while it’s normal for a beginner to feel like everyone in a yoga class is going to judge on how flexible or strong they are, the important thing to realize is that in yoga it’s not about anybody else, it’s about you. Each person there comes to move through the poses in order to quiet their own mind, to take time to focus on them. They don’t care about how flexible the person is on the mat next to them.
And if someone does care? You probably won’t even notice, because you’ll be focusing on how you feel, not on how someone else feels about you.
Yoga gives you permission to focus on you. To be narcissistic, in the healthiest way possible.
Photo Credit: FindOrion Photography