What is is that Makes a Yogi Beautiful? When you look at yourself what do you see? Who are you? A body? Your feelings, or thoughts? We so often focus on our appearance and ignore the inner person we are, which is a shame because it is the inner person who holds the key to deeper happiness.
How do we define beauty (being that beauty is a very subjective term)? Is it always something aesthetically pleasing ? Is it in something healthy or fit?…something which moves and flows about with abandon, and is free from convention? Is beauty found in confidence?…in gentleness?… in strength?…in innocence?…in intelligence?… in kindness?… in generosity? There are an infinite number of definitions for beauty I’m sure. I suppose you are getting a pretty clear picture of where I’m going with this train of thought. What is is that makes a yogi beautiful?
We as yogis are usually very body conscience. We probably started practicing yoga partially for that reason. When you look at yourself in the mirror do you see your beauty…all of who and what you are…what you represent as a person? Or do you see yourself and feel your outer self doesn’t look the way you want it to? Are you unhappy with your body? Many of us see our body as something possessed, rather than an expression of who we are. It’s no wonder!…Every place we turn we have “examples” of “beauty” which many people feel they must measure up to. Why must we? Why is physical beauty so valued in society while the true beauty of character and accomplishment is often overlooked?
As Yogis we are asked to look deeper into ourselves….to recognize our true selves… the self who is measured by the “who we are” and “what we do”. It is a beautiful thing to see the radiance which shines from within us and attach our meaning, and how we define ourselves, to that. Perhaps here is where we can see our physical appearance as part, not all, of who we are. In that regard, the body is an expression of our consciousness, rather than something we display. We can come to the realization that the body merely houses our true spirit. It is not to say that physical beauty and improvement of ourselves is unimportant…It just should not be the guage that measures our value as people.
It’s understood that in theory all of these points being made about inner beauty are fabulous on paper and much harder to practice in real life. We are constantly being bombarded with media that tells us we need to look thirteen in short shorts. I know, we all know, how hard it is not to measure ourselves against the media ideals. I have a close friend/ relative who is not at all physically attractive. Yet she is one of the happiest people I know…her husband is crazy about her, she has a million friends who rave about her. She has the ability to look at herself and see the beauty of the person she is. This person is the one who is always doing anonymous kindnesses. She is always there for people who need her. She has had some very sad losses in life yet lives with an unwavering happiness and spiritual faith. I look at her and wonder how she does this. The secret, I believe, is that she does it because her happiness is gained by what she does and how she feels about her actions in life. If you meet her you will find that she is, after a moment with her, incredibly beautiful, confident, kind, and all of the things, plus a million more, listed above. The only example she is missing is physical beauty…Yet, we almost always place physical beauty as the top definition list for beautiful…I stopped to consider some of life’s happier moments a small test…I looked great in my size 4 yellow dress vs. the birth of our daughter. I guess when it’s put to this test it’s very clear. One of those happiness’s lasted an evening and the other a lifetime. Maybe it’s time to take inventory. I can still enjoy looking good in that yellow dress…but when I no longer do, will my happiness evaporate? Will I use all of my time and energy in pursuit of the yellow dress and how I look in it? Well, when put like that, I pray not.
When we, as individuals learn to value ourselves for what we are as people, and by our actions, we allow others to see the value we find in ourselves. After readin a generous number of poll asking people for their opinions on what beauty really is, the vast majority stated that confidence is the trait that they considered most attractive in a person….followed by generosity and kindness. Most also agreed that physical beauty matched with self- centered and self-serving behavior is considered very unattractive. The skin deep beauty tarnishes quickly when coupled with negative behavior. I’m sure we all have witnessed this.
We are all of us beautiful and valued beings…The internal nature of yoga and “turning inward” allows us to explore and cultivate the beautiful people that exist within.