“Stand in your power!” my favorite yoga teacher likes to shout at us during warrior II. I always like to sneak a glance around the darkened room and see people narrow their eyes, purse their lips, and crouch deeper with determination into the pose. He often accompanies that command with the thought that how we approach the mat is how we approach life. We pour our confidence, self-worth, and self-love (or lack thereof) into not only our yoga practice but into our vocations, our interests,our relationships, and how we present ourselves to the world.
The theme resurfaced in a recent taekwondo class.
“I didn’t see any power in your block,” my taekwondo instructor said to me during forms practice last week. He pawed at the air limply before demonstrating a crisp inside-outside block that made the fabric on his sleeve pop. He took the opportunity to turn it into a lesson for the entire class.
“Forms are the perfect time to practice everything–kicks, blocks, strikes,” he said adamantly. “You have time to think, unlike sparring, and no one’s in front of you like sparring or one-steps. You’re not going to hurt anybody. We’re supposed to practice what we preach so do each movement as if you were using them in a real-life attack.” A-ha. Not only are we telling the story of the form—we’re living it.
Between the urgings of my two instructors I wondered if I really “stood in my power.” My approach to life hasn’t always been positive, eager, and strong. It has been fraught with self-doubt, apologies, pleading, and paranoid questions. My confidence has been shaky for much of my life, and my emotional and mental stability has threatened to crumble underneath me. It’s hard to stand in your power when you hate yourself and don’t believe you’re “worth it.” After years of strenuous self-development and come-to-Jesus meetings with my mind I can safely say that I’m in a much more powerful and happy place. I hold myself on equal footing with my coworkers, who are all men nearly twice my age. I have matured exponentially in how I manage my relationships. I eagerly look forward to sparring rather than dread it. I still have my moments of fear and doubt, but I now have the ability to fight through them and regain my power.
Stand in your power, my hippies and fighters. You’re worth it.