Playing Dress Up- How yoga got me naked

There are two kinds of people in this world- those who love dressing up, and those who don’t.  Most people who know me know I love a good costume/ theme party and I always give it 100%. Having gone through 4 and a half years of undergraduate education, I’ve definitely seen my fair share of interesting themes. Tight and Bright? Easy. Things that start with an F? Now we’re talking.

Circa 2011, "Free Spirit" 

Circa 2011, "Free Spirit" 

There’s something exciting about playing dress up. Perhaps it links back to being a child and that feeling of you can be anything you want to be. Slip on a white coat and suddenly 7 year old Anita is a doctor. Swap it for a microphone and now I’m a songstress. Totally fine and normal for a child. However, what I didn’t realize is that my costume party for one continues on into this day. And I’m not the only one.

We’ve all heard this saying before- fake it til you make it. And for the longest time, I believed in it whole heartedly. I faked it into friend groups, into relationships, and nailed the costume so well, I even had myself convinced. As the years went on, I picked up more and more identities, adding them like layers to an outfit. I was “Straight A student” and “the planner” in my group of friends for a long time, and then I added on “cheerleader”, “serial volunteer”, and “well-rounded, multi-scholarship-winning student”. Next, I piled on “sorority member”, “insert whatever job title I had at the time”, “exec of random university club #5, 18, and 209” and topped it off with “world’s raddest girlfriend” (and also the most neurotic but I preferred to keep that hidden).

As you can imagine, an outfit with so many pieces would be bulky, impractical, and heavy. And heavy it was. I began to felt weighed down by all of these roles that when it came time to add on one more- “yoga teacher”, I collapsed.

image via pinterest

image via pinterest

Having, holding, and collecting roles, whether literal or imagined, did not make me any more important nor did it mean I embodied the roles any better. While some of those roles felt true at the time; in hindsight, I know that I was collecting them to feel some sort of affirmation and self acceptance. I told myself that even if I felt like a fraud to start, if I wore them for long enough, I would start to become that kind of person. We all know putting on a sexy nurse costume doesn’t make us instantly qualified to assist in an operating room so why do we think “wearing” a role would do the same?

 

So… Yoga.

Photo via Jourdan Tymkow

Photo via Jourdan Tymkow

That yoga teacher role? Well it wouldn’t sit still. It kept sliding off my back and pulled my other clothes with it. And no matter how much I wanted it to sit fucking still, it wouldn’t. Be the super philosophical yoga teacher who weaves teachings effortlessly into her classes. Be the super thin insta-yogi. Be the nut-mylk making, kombucha drinking yogi.

Nope.

And then, it all made sense. This crazy little thing we call life? It’s not about how many fancy items of clothing you can wear at the same time. It’s about- how naked can you get?

Image via pinterest

Image via pinterest

In yoga philosophy, there is the understanding that we are all, quite literally, “cloaked”. We don’t see our own greatness because of things that conceal them from us- our doubts, insecurities, and fears.

As such, we spend our entire lives unraveling. Getting naked.


Footnote:

While on vacation last month, my best friend and I had one of those “moments”. On the last day of our holiday, we felt a mounting sense of anxiety at the thought of returning home. It’s not that we dislike the life we’ve made for ourselves, it was as if a part of us knew that we had to slip the roles back on. Our theory is that everyone loves vacations because it’s one of the few times we are afforded the opportunity to simply be. We don’t have to be “the manager” or “the planner” or any other role we don’t want to be. Instead of humans doing, we step into humans, being.