No Risk, No Reward

The first thing I read in my Instagram feed this morning was Kino MacGregor’s (@kinoyoga) post inviting her reader’s to take a risk and be vulnerable. I’ve had some notes on this subject for a while, thinking that at some point it would become a blog post, but as Kino’s post title dictated today “Yogi’s Assignment: Vulnerability,” I knew it was carpe diem time.

Vulnerability is some scary business, whether we’re referring to vulnerability in yoga asana practice or vulnerability in our relationships with others. Personally, my most recent exercises in vulnerability have been a month-long Instagram yoga challenge (hosted by none other than Kino herself, along with another of my IG idols, Kerri Verna @beachyogagirl), and of course starting this blog. While intrigued, I’ve avoided yoga challenges in the past due to a fear of judgment of my photos, my form, knowledge and skill level. Accepting the challenge required me to overcome my anxiety about showing such a big part of myself, my practice, to the world. I accepted that not every pose would be executed perfectly, not every camera angle the best, not every element of lighting the most flattering (I’ve become quite educated in the art of editing however!), but the reward has come in more than one form. My participation has deepened my relationships and built camaraderie among fellow yogis and friends. My best friend’s daughter is doing the challenge as well, and it’s encouraged my own children to try a challenge next! **Huge thank you, by the way, to all of my family and friends who have so enthusiastically served as photographer/art director/editor at one point or another. You’ve all been very patient, although I’m sure that will wear thin by this time next month and I’ll be approaching strangers on the street to snap my poses!

The challenge has also taught me a lot about my physical practice. It is easy to become complacent on our mats and in our minds about how we perform some postures, but when there is photographic evidence of what the body looks like in a pose, not what the mind thinks it looks like, you can most often see room for progression. That has been such a valuable takeaway for me, as I know in yoga practice, as in life, there is always someplace deeper to journey, an ability to find a new edge. I also believe that if we can embrace the vulnerability of a posture, rather than fear it or fight against it, we can better let go of that which does not serve us. This in turn supports growth and depth of experience on, as well as off our mats.

As for starting this blog, who knew that within a couple of weeks of my biggest tests of vulnerability going live, I would actually be writing a post on vulnerability? Similar to what I sought to overcome with exposing more about my yoga practice through photography, I had to overcome a need for perfect word choice, perfect communication of a feeling, thought or idea, 100% of the time. I’ve hid behind my desire for perfection in writing for many years. Taking the step to make some of my thoughts and feelings public has made me feel extremely vulnerable. But yet again, the reward has exceeded my expectations in the forms of amazing feedback and support, not to mention a great new creative vehicle through which I can express and share.

I hope to show my girls that our lives are made richer by the depths and sincerity of the connections we make with others. Is the person reflected back in the mirror the person you show the world, complete with not only recognition of your flaws but ownership of them? Be courageous and embrace vulnerability and the growth potential it has to offer us. Embracing vulnerability exposes the deepest part of the self, the soul. And yes, there will be times that the soul will suffer. But take that risk, because there will be more times that the soul will shine. Be the most honest version of yourself. Show the world your true beauty and you will be rewarded. A life genuinely lived is among the greatest rewards.

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