Several years ago I posted this photo publicly on social media and my website. For me, it was a big step in being both strong and vulnerable. Fearlessly being a woman. A woman that has worked with eating disorders and body dysmorphia. A woman who has had crushing anxiety and depression. A woman who has a big heart full of passion and creativity she wants to express but has hidden in fear of being judged or disliked.
For the most part, I received kudos from women and men. I am not naïve and knew that the lack of clothing could and would be received as sexual by some and was willing to still put it out there. My intention was pure, my expression was honest. When I looked at my guru, B.K.S. Iyengar in his famous books, Light on Yoga and Light on Pranayama, he is wearing a loincloth or small swimsuit in order to demonstrate the poses and no one has ever condemned him for it.....
A couple months after posting them, my teacher Manouso took me aside and said, “Please don't take this the wrong way. I fully support you in what you are doing. But you should know what people are saying behind your back.” He told me that teachers in my own community had contacted him to look at these photos because they felt that they were immodest and not appropriate in representing the Iyengar name. These teachers were other women. So other women in my own community were villifying me for showing my body publicly in yoga poses. First, I was mad but then underneath that I was very hurt and eventually I felt betrayed. It brought up every personal trigger I have for putting myself out there, for feeling ashamed about my body, for expressing a passionate side of myself. And, for that I am grateful because it gave me an opportunity to look in the mirror and face those things within myself.
Strong women who are willing to be fearless will always be feared. What I find deeply disappointing is that it is not the “establishment” or men that try and put them down, but their sisters. I feel this same shame and disappointment when I read or hear progressive women putting down Hillary Clinton, not for the real issues that they might disagree with, but in fear of her fearlessness.
When B.K.S. Iyengar was asked “Does evil exist?” without hesitation he replied, “No.” Good and evil are all determined by perspective. When we objectify the other and make them bad or evil, we do a disservice to us all. The only way we are all getting out of this mess we have collectively created, is collectively.
As long as there are two sides, as long as there is duality, then we will suffer, we will all suffer. When we realize that we are One heart, One soul, One infinite being, then and only then will we all be free.
Communication and debate is an essential part of a free state. With that comes a willingness to accommodate for differences, to support others even if we don't completely agree. I truly do not mean this to sound patronizing, this is a practice that I have found to be very true. The faults that we find in others, are more often than not, the "dark holes" in ourselves, the regions that we don't like and don't affect. They are also the fertile ground for liberation. I want you to know that we've "got your back" while you walk into the unknown. You are supported and much loved.