Last March I stood on a boulder at the Cape of Good Hope: the sun was bright on my shoulders, the brisk waves of the south Atlantic ocean were breaking beneath me and as my heart and lungs expanded my limbs did too–my body and spirit were starting asana. Yoga for me is like dance–it’s training I’ve done for years and in profound encounters with nature I am moved to physical expression through asana in much the way that, as a little girl, I would twirl through the fields of rural New York. But an important part of my yoga is a commitment to asana as an inner practice, not a performance. More bluntly, it is about posing as posture versus posing as Posing.
So I stood on the rock, surrounded by friends with cameras who I knew would photograph me if I struck a beautiful pose, and I turned inward: I folded forward, then down into plank, giving myself a physical experience that would not be photographically interesting because I knew the moment I did something “pretty” I’d be distracted by the performance of it; I’d cheapen the moment. I nixed the once-in-a-lifetime Facebook shot on purpose. What’s unfortunate is that the pose I felt like doing, Camatkarasana, didn’t get expressed–my heart and limbs wanted it but I didn’t want an audience and more truthfully I think I was too worried people would think I was seeking attention. I didn’t want to be, or appear to be, a poser. So I resisted the pose. And I regret missing that moment. Perhaps it was meant to spark this process, this yoga, of self-examination: why am I so concerned about narcissism and narcissists and (ironically enough) about behaving like one that I would resist an authentic moment of self-expression?