There is a woman who comes pretty regularly to my various yoga classes about town. Her name is Mandy and she is in her early fifties. Having more recently taken up exercise seriously for the first time in her life, Mandy is just beginning to learn how to tune into her body and what it can do when it comes to moving.
One day, a few weeks after she began coming to class, Mandy came up to me after a particularly challenging practice. Although I had noticed her in class before, we had never had a chance to have a conversation. Having clearly pushed herself to her limits, a smiling Mandy extended a sweaty palm and said though she had only recently discovered yoga, she was now completely hooked. When I told her how great she was doing she began to laugh and with a big smile said "Thank you so much Mercedes but you lie. I just love yoga soooo much because it makes me feel so good but I know I'm pretty bad at it. I guess you could say I just love doing yoga badly!".
Now anyone who has ever been to any of my classes knows I am the Queen of positive encouragement. I'm the first to shout out those annoying yoga teacher platitudes like "You can do it! You rock! You're amazing!". That being said I couldn't help but laugh because in all honesty, in the purely physical sense, she really kinda did do 'yoga badly'. When everyone would go left she would go right, when I would say up she would go down, when her leg needed to be straight it would be bent, when I would say twist she would do what could only be described as some curiously interpretive River Dance move. I could go on but you get the point. But I love it when Mandy comes to class and I'll tell you why. As a self-confessed perfectionist she makes me wonder how many things I don't do because I might do them 'badly'. Like for instance I love painting, always have, not sure why. I have these fantasies of being able to hammer out fabulous Da Vinci style portraits of fictitious characters with a secret to tell whom I've imagined are part of some grand epic tale. In my fantasy people come from far and wide to view my beautiful, mesmerizing drawings on love and life. In reality I failed the yoga stick figure drawing test during my teacher training. Yea, I know, who can't draw a stick man. However if I were Mandy I would still do it and love doing it badly because it speaks to my soul, warms my heart, indulges my love of creativity and imagination. I stopped painting though because the end result never looked the way I had pictured in my head. It wasn't perfect. Not even close.
When Mandy comes to the mat she isn't just showing up for class, she is showing up for life. She is living it on her own terms, doing what makes her happy, warms her heart and makes her feel great. She couldn't care less about what she looks like or what people think about her. Mandy is motivated by what she loves, not by what she lacks and is perfectly ok with being imperfect. When I see her flail about her mat with a big ol' smile, I feel this immense sense of joy wash over me. Simply by being perfectly imperfect, Mandy unknowingly reassures me that life is a lot more fun when I allow myself to be perfectly imperfect too.
That being said, I have to run now. There is a dusty old blank canvas rolled up under my bed that I do believe needs some painting on it badly...