First things first. You are perfect just as you are. Hold this thought. Whether you believe it or not is another story, but trust me when I say – loudly – “You Are Perfect!”
I’ve been chatting with a number of journalists lately about my reason behind opening a studio like Jessica Dewar Yoga. Why I made it a donation-based studio. There are many reasons why, reasons I will not go into here. But a primary reason comes down to accessibility for all.
Now, when we think of accessibility and a donation-based model, we tend to assume in monetary terms. But there is more to it than this. Accessibility, for me, refers to all people – regardless of;
- Social status
- Socio economic status
- Health status
- Experience / level of fitness
Financial status is of course another factor, but to be clear, it is not the only one. There are many people who have approached me directly and explained how nervous they are about beginning yoga. They may have suffered an injury, believe they’re too inflexible or that they are disrespecting religious beliefs (among many other reasons).
The truth is – everyone can practice yoga. And it is never too late to start. I’ve worked with some very unwell people over the years, people from all walks of life, who have had to get up and keep going. Forced to work with the cards they’ve been dealt. I’ve seen the power of the human spirit bounce back when all odds were against them. Why? Because they knew they deserved better and that only they could change their situation – whatever it looked like for them.
The challenge, for us as teachers and studio owners, is to create a space where people feel safe to be vulnerable. A space where people can delve into the most confronting parts of self without fear of judgment.
It is not uncommon for students to speak privately with me and explain how nervous they are about beginning, or returning to, their journey with yoga. They share experiences where they’ve felt intimidated and inadequate. They fear old injuries. They worry about looking silly or uncoordinated.
If this is you, I can assure we’ve all be there. I began yoga out of pain and stress. Needing my partners help to get dressed at age 20 was ridiculous. So I too shared these same fears once upon a time. I didn’t want to be the only student in a class of 50 who couldn’t touch my toes. I had also, sadly, come to accept that I would live a life of pain. I worried I would make the already crippling pain worse. I wasn’t silly - I’d seen all those pictures of contorted bodies doing what the modern day practitioner considers to be yoga. But over the years, I came to realize the biggest fears were nothing to do with my physical body, my education or financial status. But rather, it was a fear of what I might bring up, emotionally, that worried me most. I’m not sure I was conscious of this at the time, but in retrospect it was certainly there.
Growing up I was an insecure, introverted person. I lacked self worth, self-confidence and had very little faith in, well, me. But despite all of this, I was never a quitter – on myself I mean. I knew I needed to try. A stubborn pain in the butt (my partner will attest to this), I wanted to challenge my self-limiting beliefs. And so I did. In all areas of my life. And you know what, this has been the craziest bloody ride of my life! I like to call this chapter – “Being Human.”
I’ve fallen countless times over the years. Physically and emotionally. I believe this is mostly because I’m a type A overachiever who places WAY too much pressure on myself to always do my best. Thank fully, yoga, on the flip side, has been very humbling for me. It’s forced me to accept that I, my life, can never be perfect. That I need to be patient. That I need to respect myself enough to take the time to care for and nurture my body and mind. To look at my physical and emotional pain as positives, as learning, rather than limitation and weakness.
I’ve hurt myself and I’ve experienced incredible highs. I’ve cried, laughed, slept, panicked, ached and cried again – both on and off the mat. Why? Because yoga forces us to be vulnerable. The fact is, yoga offers an equal playing field. And it is completely irrelevant what we do for a living, who our family is or what car we drive. We are all human beings and in the end all yoga really is, is the art of expressing the human body and mind.
The hardest decision a person will make with their practice is to start.
So I urge you – if yoga is something you’ve been nervous about trying for one reason or another, something you keep putting off, challenge yourself. Begin your journey. Yes, it will be uncomfortable. Yes, it will be tough. But oh my God can it change your life. Just wait and see.
Sending huge hugs,