“You don’t perform the arabesque, you become the arabesque. It’s about transformation”. Reading an article about the Royal Ballet Lower School recently* I came across this observation and it got me thinking about my yoga practice.

Just be – embody the qualities of the tree (Photo credit: Stella Tomlinson)

Am I performing yoga or being yoga? For example, do I stand in a certain way and perform what I think is the correct Tree posture or do I focus on becoming the Tree; embodying its qualities?

Let go of thinking

I’ve been pondering this, and consciously bringing this perspective into my yoga practice.

And I’ve noticed that when I stop thinking about how I should do the posture and instead let my focus soften and feel myself into the posture or go with the flow of the sequence, the experience is so much deeper.

I let go of thinking and become the posture. It’s so freeing. I’m not judging whether I’m doing it ‘right’, not worrying about a busy mind, not thinking about how I should be breathing. All ‘shoulds’ and questions disappear and a transformation takes place.

So, going back to the Tree. I become the qualities of the tree: strong yet flexible, rooted in the earth yet reaching up to the heavens above, a part of nature. I become the Warrior: I am strong and powerful and ready to act. I am the Dancer: standing in a state of balance and poise as the complexity of life whirls around me.

My body, breath, mind and emotions become united. In becoming one with the posture I become one with myself there in a beautiful moment of acceptance

Just acting the part?

We can take this experience of becoming and being in our yoga practice into how we live and experience our lives.

How often are we performing roles to which we have become accustomed (e.g. wife/husband, mother/father, colleague), or emotional roles with which we identify (e.g. stressed, tired, giver, counsellor), rather than realizing our potential and being who we truly are when the roles are stripped away?

We can become consummate actors and never realize it: we could win awards for the convincing nature of some of our performances!

So what happens if we stop performing for a moment and become … what? Ourselves. What would that look like? What would you be? Who are you? We can so busily perform our way through life that it can be scary to stop and think about this.

I spent many years performing a role of being an ambitious web content professional. But it wasn’t me. It didn’t make me happy. A voice within – quiet at first, then becoming steadily more insistent and louder almost to a scream – was telling me that this wasn’t me, I couldn’t carry on pretending and I must do something about it. I must be me. I need to be creative. I need to do something worthwhile and help people. I need to be a yoga teacher.

Know thyself

Practising yoga with this focus on being can take us out of our minds and into a broader awareness and can enable us to become acquainted with our true selves in every aspect of our lives.

We can become aware of and in tune with our physical body, our energy, our emotions and thoughts as they are right now, not how we think they should be or tell ourselves they are.

And this can take us out of minds and into a connection with a deeper awareness: of ourselves or of something outside ourselves – a higher self or higher consciousness. And we can come to know the beauty of self-acceptance.

I wish to be my true, authentic self rather than performing roles I have fallen into or never asked for.

Practising yoga creates that space for me to come to know and feel who I truly am, to know and achieve my potential in this life and become my highest. It’s a transformation which is a life’s journey. Which is why I am “living yoga”.

* http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/mar/25/will-they-make-royal-ballet

Performing vs. being
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4 thoughts on “Performing vs. being

  • April 16, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Fantastic reflections, Stella, so right.
    Sue C x

  • April 16, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    You are a beautiful writer Stella – truely..if I I could spell their might be hope for me yet.. but seriously.. its a pleasure reading your blog… it feels goooooood. I wish you all the best and will hold your words of truth Rachel (Hilton massive) xxx

  • April 17, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Thanks both for your lovely comments 🙂 xxx

  • April 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    As someone on the brink of having to perform a role again after time away from it, this is striking a massive chord 🙁 BUT for me there is a warm light on the horizon, and I carry a small flame lit from that with me as a reminder it’s really just a role…

    I’ve done ‘textbook’ asanas and sequences and felt nothing at all! – yoga works better for me too when I feel and become it. Works better for my body as well – sometimes my Tree is a Willow, other times a Hazel, and on rare and wonderful occasions it’s an Oak. But then sometimes the weather around me is calm and other times it’s storm force winds! Being adaptable to the ‘weather conditions’ in the moment not only keeps my roots, branches and leaves healthier, but helps deepen my experience at that time too.


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