In defense of not defending myself …

In defense of not defending myself …

(but, of course, I do anyway).

As if being pulled backward through a tight, spiraling tunnel, a free-floating hand touches pointer finger to thumb while the three remaining fingers spread like feathers, a square television, those strings of lights that people used to, unsafely, wrap around flammable trees after the trees are parted from their outdoor roots and dragged indoors to die, those twinkling lights, an escapade, image after image flies swirling by, at first, glimpsed within the periphery only to come into sharp focus, alive, mocking. She hears a lullaby. Far away. Time. She feels what most others can only see. Out there. Space. She wonders if the paper that tears sheds tears shed. Here over anywhere. And the will to rebel against both. Who, she contemplates, believes a liar?

For a long time now, I have observed #yoga on instagram (ig, insta, whatever the cool kids are calling it). I’ve participated off and on depending on how I am currently feeling about the platform. I’ve quit and returned too many times to count, but this time, this go-around feels very different because I feel as though I have a responsibility to participate whether or not I “feel” like it. It’s called accountability, in my mind, but it also seems so trite, trivial and pointless, and yes, I am capable of keeping both of these truths about social media in mind at the same time, so no worries.

The issue, for me, revolves around this extreme pressure to explain myself or defend myself when I am absent from the platform. The worst part is that I know that I am not alone in this acknowledgement of this type of pressure. Yogis (of all shapes and sizes and “influence”) defend themselves constantly in the captions of their posts, most of which begin like this … “I was never a dancer …” “I was not born flexible (except you were, we all were) …” “I’m not perfect …” “Sexiness is …” “I’m not …” “Don’t judge …” etc., etc., &c. It’s annoying. Why are you wasting so much mental energy defending yourself? It’s sad. Why are you wasting so much time defending yourself? And it’s a little transparent. Why did you think that your social media influence would build your confidence?

So, yes, I will go ahead and explain myself and say that I am having a little (large) flare up of an old neck injury. It was the type of injury where a steel pole lands on the top of your head from some heights, as it slams the front of your face into the counter in front of which you were standing, breaking your nose, which was swiftly fixed by surgery, a bruise on the skull with eight months of physical therapy followed by eight more months of private therapy, and a 90% disability rating which left you jobless for a very long time. That kind of neck injury. Yoga was prescribed to me as a way to keep my neck and shoulders loose, to prevent any flare ups. 

I grew up competing in non-competitive gymnastics, and then, I transitioned to dance after I had dislocated my elbows one too many times. By the time I was 23 I had danced for seven years, survived a knee surgery, and retired from everything. I would begin running shortly thereafter, working up to the point of almost signing up for my first 10K cause I knew I could finally run that distance in a time I could be proud of (brag about), and then the steel pole entered my life along with the suggestion of yoga that I would ignore for years. And being the being that I am, it’s hard for me to half-ass shit, so naturally, when I finally set out to be a “good yogi,” which of course to me meant the “contortionist heights of yogic expression,” ha!, I went for it (this is not the first time I’ve induced a neck flare after over-doing it; when I will learn, there is no knowing).

My point is that everyone’s life is filled with this sort of invisible nuance. You never know what someone is suffering, and you cannot simply look at someone and know whether or not they are in pain. But why do we all feel it…the pressure to defend, to explain ourselves to each other? And obviously, I am caught up in the whole situation of defending myself as a yogi, but why? What is this pressure?

I am feeling much better physically (and even managed a few stretches on my mat today), but mentally and emotionally I don’t want to participate right now in the yoga space, but I will, eventually, in a new modified way. I don’t think that I need to give up my ambition to touch my feet to the back of my head, but maybe I do. For now, I can only focus on doing the sort of yoga that will help rather than hinder my recovery, and until I feel fully recovered, I will be steeped in gratitude for being able to do what I can do today.

Until next time.