ARTWORK BY: CARMEN SEIJAS, DAREN THOMAS MAGEE, HILMA AF KLINT, SLIME VA
YOGA LITERALLY TRANSLATES TO UNION; UNION OF ONESELF
A merging between two opposite forces, better defined as a balance. Yoga is often portrayed as a practice that reflects a calm, airy, and transcendental experience and that yogi’s are just these super-beings that don’t curse, are always sickly positive, and have a cult like glaze over their eyes. When in all actuality, those are just the pretty veils of deception people try to shroud their practice in. I won’t deny that it’s a beautiful picture to paint and I more times than not have been guilty of caving into this unattainable fabrication. It is easy and common to get caught up in the idea of what a yoga practice should reflect. I like so many others who walk this Earth yearn to appear pure, perfect even, unsullied by life’s hardships and tribulations. Sadly, there is no amount of positivity that suddenly makes all the darkness “POOF” from existence. In fact, a yoga practice that condemns the duality of our being, positive and negative, light and dark, is a practice devoid of balance. The thing about constant positivity is that it’s a lie, to yourself and to others. You gain nothing by withholding and repressing the duality of your humanity.
I guess what I’m trying to say is we’ve all held an F-bomb inside our hearts. We’ve all experienced behavior that we are not proud of. Whether its wanting to stick it to a deserving stranger (especially with a certain medial finger) or losing our shit in bumper-to-bumper traffic. We’ve all experienced emotions we are not proud of and never want to indulge in. Whether its the first tinges of jealousy, rage, loss, depression, or mourning. We have all either been there or have yet to experience its sting. It is an intrinsic aspect of the human experience. Life is not all rainbows, glitter, and unicorns. It’s traffic tickets, unexpected illness, or sudden trauma. In brief, it is the same somber song that connects us all. It’s time to start being vulnerable and stop pretending like yoga or life is some type of cake-walk contest.
“I share this because it is easy to assume that we all have the perfect “love and light” here on the internet.”
Yoga is often centered around the attainment of an unbothered and unburdensome calm. However, what most seem to ignore is that yoga also encompasses and brings to the surface our fears, insecurities, desires, bitterness, and resentment. Emotions such as these are just as valid and necessary to express yet are often overlooked in the pursuit of positivity. I once believed that in order to be “good” I had to reject “bad.” This type of thinking was a fallacious pursuit for perfection. In fact, “good” and “bad” are opposite ends of the same stick. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying you should revel in dark emotions, experiences or circumstances. I’m saying you should accept negativity as a basic part of existence.
“In general, people are not drawn to perfection in others. People are drawn to shared interests, shared problems, and an individual’s life energy.
Humans connect with humans. Hiding one’s humanity and trying to project an image of perfection makes a person vague, slippery, lifeless, and uninteresting.”
You see, existence is much grittier than anyone genuinely cares to admit. It’s important to understand that no matter who you are, we all experience darkness in some stages and it is more than okay. This is life, to resist it, push it down, deny it, hide it, numb it or ignore it, does not change its reality. Denial of darkness be it personal or circumstantial does not bring about more light. This avoidance only perpetuates a vicious cycle of retraction and shame. You effectively sacrifice being “good” when you remain in pursuit of appearing as someone without struggle. When I look back on my life, some of the most beautiful moments were times when I got out from underneath things I didn’t know I could overcome. These moments of my life, hard as they were, made me the woman behind this screen sharing this with you today. It is our responsibility to navigate, utilize and understand the dark stages of life. We do so when we give ourselves permission to be human.
I’ve often heard the saying “don’t focus your energy on negativity” and while this may seem solid in theory, in reality it barely stands up. Acknowledging darkness (negative emotions, circumstances, and experiences) by no means feeds into it’s existence. When negativity, darkness, or gloom arises it does so to demand our attention.
All that is wrong with life appears because it is seeking understanding, acceptance, and most importantly resolution. Everything troublesome in your life I encourage you to bless it, give it grace and send it on it’s way. Railing against the hurt that comes with acknowledging dark emotions, experiences, and circumstances delays deeper healing. It is important to create space for the broken parts of life and cradle these facets with love. Disownment of these characteristics will always keep true union with oneself out of reach.
Contrary to most beliefs, light doesn’t exist to usher out the bad. Light exists to appreciate the struggle for what it is and employ it as a tool to learn and grow by. Darkness and challenges exist so that its aftertaste can be recycled into gratitude for the light that enters our lives. As uncomfortable as it is to experience; darkness is a beautiful and integral part of life, love, and overall satisfaction with oneself. It helps us acknowledge and appreciate when the light is appearing and the storm is clearing.