Hello from Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts (I’m guest speaker here this week.) Thanks to all of my Positively Positive tribe that showed up to my NYC workshops. Wow! I love you guys!
So, A couple weeks ago I sat down for an interview for a book on yoga. The first question the interviewer asked was how many times a week I practiced yoga. “Do you want me to tell the truth?” I asked.
I was kidding. (Kind of.)
The truth: I don’t do as much yoga as I would like (or could do). Sometimes I go a long time without it (I’ve gone weeks.) Sure, sometimes I practice a couple days a week, and I’ve had stretches when I do it daily.
Before we sat down on my couch for the interview, I had somewhat of an idea of what he was looking for. Of what people who were reading a book about yoga would want. And that idea was NOT me.
Should I tell the truth? I asked him.
So how many days a week do you practice? Um, sometimes zero. Sometimes three. Sometimes one.
Are you a vegan? No. ( I love cheese as an fyi in case we are ever out and you want to buy me some cheese or a glass of wine.)
What’s a yogic diet? I don’t know. I don’t think I follow a “yogic diet.” I drink (too much) coffee and I drink (a lot) of wine. I try not to be dogmatic about nutrition or diet. Especially being a recovered anorexic. It’s like playing with fire.
Are you a guru or a teacher? Hmm, I am Jen Pastiloff. And I most likely say the word “shit” too much. (Positively Positive readers nod heads in agreement.) I am definitely NOT a guru.
No one wants to see a fake version of who I am because that’s what I think they want to see.
I’ve done that enough in my life. Go ahead and crucify me because I don’t do as much yoga as I “should” or because I drink or because I don’t like tea. I’m getting old enough not to care. I’m learning how to be OK with standing apart.
And the word “should” needs to be burned in the fire. For good.
As he asked me the questions, I started to slip into my own line of internal questioning, starting with, “Where do I fit in?”
I realized that a lot of people grapple with this question: Where do I fit in?
What do I call myself? Who am I? Where is my place in this world? In the scheme of things, where do I get placed?
As my retreats/workshops become less asana based, as I stop teaching so many yoga classes, as I start writing more, I start to wonder where I fit in. Am I a yoga teacher? Am I a writer? Am I a truth teller? Am I spiritual? (That was one of the questions as well.) Am I a yogi?
The truth is: it doesn’t really matter where you fit in the crowd.
What do you do when you feel like you don’t fit into the club? Why, you create your own club. @JenPastiloff (Click to Tweet!)
You start your own club called The This Is How I’m Going To Do It Club. Or, The Take It Or Leave It Club. And you make yourself president. Just like that.
The trouble arises, at least for me, when I feel like I have to fit into a certain model or when I feel like I have to fit into a box. When I feel like I have to look/do/say/be the way people expect me to look/do/say/be.
I found myself wanting to get the answers “right” a few times during the interview. I found thoughts coming up like, “How can you teach yoga if you x, y or z?” But then I realized that the answer was obvious.
I’ve created my own niche, my own style, my own career – but most of all, I’ve found what makes me happy.
When asked me about the yogic diet, I said that I didn’t know what a yogi diet was was but that I thought the best thing to do was to pay attention to what makes you feel good. Oh, this makes me gassy and bloated? I won’t eat it. This gives me a hangover? I won’t drink it.This makes me constipated? Done with that.
If we pay attention to what works, life becomes easier to navigate. And yes, you can use that analogy for your yoga practice, as well. Pay attention to how when you turn your foot a certain way, a certain pose hurts your knee. Hopefully, one day, you’ll stop turning your foot that certain way.
I’ve found something that works. I don’t know how exactly. When I start to question it, or when I try to fit in to be more yoga-teachery, (whatever that means), I lose the part of myself that makes me feel good. I lose the part of myself that makes me successful. And to be clear, I don’t mean successful in any monetary definition. I mean successful in that I can put my head down at the end of the day and say, I told the truth today.
Jen will be leading a Manifestation Retreat in Ojai, California in May and a four day Labor Day retreat. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this Positively Positive post to understand what a Manifestation retreat is. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you (Dallas, NYC, Seattle, Atlanta etc,). Jen and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. Jen will be back in London for another workshop July 6 but book soon as the last one sold out fast with a long wait list!
March 17, 2014
Image courtesy of simplereminders.com