Cliched phrases like “be-you-tiful” usually don’t hold a lot of meaning for me, except when the mantra is printed on the front of my yoga instructor’s shirt as she’s demonstrating Lion’s Breath, which is a form of yogic breathing where the a person sticks their tongue out and rolls their eyes into the back of their head. It’s pretty attractive.
I was fortunate enough to find an actual picture of my YouTube yoga instructor demonstrating Lion’s Breath. She’s really cute, I swear. (Picture from YouTube)
The funny thing about Lion’s Breath is, I’m hesitant to practice it, even when I’m doing yoga alone in my room. There’s really no rhyme or reason to this, because who’s going to see me?
The fact that I don’t feel comfortable practicing a silly looking yoga pose, even when I’m by myself, made me think about the unnecessary restrictions we put on our own behavior, based on the assumptions that everyone everywhere is judging our every move, and that there’s only a narrow spectrum of behaviors that are considered “normal” by society, and every other action is “weird.”
I’ve felt the pressure to conform to made-up social norms that I impose upon myself since I was just a little middle school kid, and I know that this has caused me way too much unnecessary stress throughout my life. I always feel like my most minute actions, such as the way I carry myself when I walk or the exact angle that my bangs fall at, bear a major significance on the way others perceive me, and will determine my popularity and success for like, the rest of my life.
My false notion that my actions were constantly being judged by others is the reason that the causal observer would catch me wearing the exact same clothes as my friends in high school, and take on the exact same mannerisms. After all, there is safety in numbers, even if the numbers don’t exactly match up with my personal set of numbers. Every day was a constant struggle of making sure that my usually quiet and reserved personality was up to code with the peppy and outgoing personalities of my friends, and hoping that my inner love for Star Wars didn’t show (I could never completely cover this up though– knowing the name of every member of the Jedi council is a pretty cool way to impress your friends’ little brothers).
From left to right: Coleman Trebor, Anakin Skywalker, Agen Kolar, Obi Wan Kenobi, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Yoda, Mace Windu, Plo Koon. Unfortunately, I had to look some of these up, as I’ve let a bit of my Star Wars knowledge slide in recent years. (photo from Wookiepedia)
I think my reluctance to perform Lion’s Breath stems from the insecurities I’ve felt for most of my life, insecurities that led me to believe that I’ll never have quite the right look or act the right way to fit into societal norms. However, I’ve recently started realizing the truth: there are no societal norms, and just about no one even notices what I do. This isn’t “The Truman Show,” where my life is the most popular TV program and everyone has their own perception of the way I’m supposed to act (at least I hope it’s not– that would be awfully boring entertainment).
I’m free to do whatever I want to do at whatever time I want to– sing, dance, talk to strangers, practice Lion’s Breath, be-me-tiful. While most of the time I like to be pretty chill and unobtrusive, it’s more than appropriate to get super excited about something, or cry in the middle of class just because I’m feeling emotional. Despite what Shakespeare said, the world isn’t a stage, and life isn’t a play with a predetermined script.
Life is beautiful, always changing, and hardly anyone notices what anyone else does, so there’s no reason to avoid doing anything that the heart desires. Especially practicing Lion’s Breath when I’m all alone.
PS: This week, I did sessions 10-13 of Yoga with Adrienne’s 30 days of yoga. Check them out if you want some killer yoga instruction!