When I first appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, I joined Ellen and several guests on the floor with yoga mats. I took them through a variety of yoga postures, including downward facing dog and cat/cow. Then, when we came to child’s pose, Ellen commented how we could do that pose a couple of times a day…or even for an hour-and-a-half!
The audience laughed. Of course they did, for an hour-and-a-half sounded absurd. And, it was Ellen.
It made sense that part of this television segment included yoga postures, for this is often what we in the West associate with yoga. We consider it an interesting alternative to a strenuous workout at the gym, and if we take a yoga class, perhaps we can feel less flabby in our mind as well as our body. Perhaps we can burn off the calories we consumed when they brought out a cake at our friend’s birthday party, and we can even look like a model on the cover of a magazine.
The thing is, true beauty has very little to do with what happens on magazine covers—or even on our own face.
Imagine an old building that has been re-painted a dozen times over the course of many decades. What would happen if you scraped that paint away? You would reveal a pristine, natural piece of wood that is so beautiful and perfect that it reminds you of why it even earned its place on the side of the building all of those years ago. This building is like each one of us: We each are made up of a set of natural wooden panels that emanate the purity and excellence that makes us who we are inside.
This is inner beauty. It’s the peace we feel after a great cry, and the warmth we feel when we watch two best friends make up after a conflict. It’s a state of existence that each one of us has an opportunity to fully realize in our lives when we strip away all of the unnecessary paint. How do we find this peace within ourselves? My work with clients, readers, and the kind people I shared a studio floor with during that segment on Ellen all relate back to the practice of ancient Indian disciplines such as Ayurveda, Tantra, and, of course, yoga.
Yoga is a system that teaches us to relieve imbalances of the mind and replace it with calm and contentment. Postures are of course a part of this, but it’s only one part of a larger science and lifestyle. Relieving imbalances of the mind helps us to tune into what we really need and to help us find the most enjoyable path in attracting it. When we practice breathing, meditation, and everything else that fills out the yogic path, we are able to decide whether or not we really do need a strenuous workout at the gym or a piece of cake, or if we simply desire it all in our mind. We are able to let go of layers of paint that tell us that we’re flabby, inadequate, and everything else that’s useless. We are able to let go of everything that doesn’t serve us, and attract everything that does.
Ellen had made a joke that we can sit there in child’s pose for an hour-and-a-half because it would probably feel good. The funniest thing about that comment is that, if in stripping down to the bare wood of your day you realize that staying in that pose for that length of time doesn’t feel excessive, then that’s probably what you need. If you emerge from that position feeling calm, focused, and fulfilled, then you’ve done something more than just a yoga posture.
You’ve found your own inner beauty.