Masterpieces are often moulded out of a reflective journey that is imperfect
A few years ago, I was introduced to yoga by a close friend of mine. She, an intermediate practitioner, and I, a beginner, attended a multi-level Hatha yoga class together at an upscale yoga studio in town.
I was so excited because I had heard so many great things about yoga, but when I left the studio that day, I felt a vague sense of failure. I hated yoga! I hated how I wasn’t flexible or strong enough to do most poses perfectly. I hated how I could only sit in awe while my classmates went up into handstands. I hated feeling inferior and defeated by my own body. And most of all, I hated feeling less than perfect.
It was only years after that first class when I learned that yoga is not really about the poses, and nor is it about being perfect. There is no destination, only a journey, and that is why it is often referred to as a practice.
Over the years, the practice of yoga has meant many different things to me. But most importantly, yoga has represented an invitation to accept my imperfections, to free myself from preconceived expectations, and to express the language of my soul.
Yoga is art on the canvas of body, mind, and soul.
Recently, I attended Yoga in Bloom with Urban Yogis at Dale Chihuly’s exhibit: Glass in Bloom. Prior to the class, I had the opportunity to explore some of Dale Chihuly’s beautiful glass installations and was very intrigued by his story.
Dale Chihuly is an American artist, famous for his glass art masterpieces. He suffered permanent damage to his right leg and severe cuts to his face after a car accident in 1976 which left him without sight in one eye and limited depth perception.
“There was no despair because I just felt so lucky that I didn’t lose both my eyes,” said Chihuly in the book World of Glass: The Art of Dale Chihuly.
Then in 1979, he dislocated his shoulder in another accident. Fearing for his own safety, Dale Chihuly decided to stop glassblowing. However, he didn’t let these setbacks stop him from continuing to create art. Since then, he has moved on to making drawings for his team at Chihuly Studio and plays the role of a director and choreographer in the creation of his work.
Despite his limitations, Dale remained optimistic and continued to explore, experiment, and push the boundaries of contemporary art. He draws inspiration from everything around him and expresses the beauty of each present moment with the help of his talented team of glassblowers.
His works represent a departure from the past. He is never stuck in one place and constantly explores new ways of working and creating art. Very much like his own life, Dale does not let anything limit his art of its true potential as it finds its shape in its own organic way. Relishing in the beauty of all asymmetry and irregularities in his glass sculptures, Dale embraces “imperfection” as part of his life work and his lifestyle.
Yoga in Bloom
After knowing about Dale Chihuly’s story, practicing yoga alongside his art emphasized the importance of finding beauty in our own tiny imperfect versions of each pose and of each practice.
Every yoga pose does not have to look like anyone else’s but yours. And even yours today does not have to look like what it did yesterday. So you can fall, you can wobble, and you might even need to let out a little fart in Downward Facing Dog. And that is all OK! You do your imperfect practice, and you rock the hell out of it! Every single practice isn’t going to be perfect, just like Dale Chihuly’s artwork. But as long as you learn to love yourself, your practice, your body and show up as the best version of yourself, that is all that matters. Your yoga practice is a unique expression in a moment of authenticity.
“Imperfection inspires invention, imagination, creativity. It stimulates. The more I feel imperfect, the more I feel alive.” – Jhumpa Lahiri.
When you allow yourself to express, explore and create from within, you learn to let go of expectations and step outside of yourself. This opportunity enables you to open up to something profoundly beautiful, something different, and maybe something unexpected. Dale Chihuly’s art reminds all of us that befriending our imperfection is a lifelong journey. But perhaps, in this very moment in your practice, it is your gateway to let go of preconceived expectations and let yourself find your own authentic shape.
Urban Yogis runs classes every Wednesday in June at 6:45pm at Chihuly: Glass in Bloom. To sign up for a spot, visit Yoga in Bloom. Our yoga class is held at the Turqoise Reeds (Exhibit 9), within the Serene Gardens. Join us for a unique and memorable experience that marries yoga, art, nature and Singapore’s iconic city scape.
About the Author
Madeline is just your everyday girl. She shares life experiences to connect and empower people while she navigates the sea of uncertainty in life. After a major burnout that led her into the hospital, Madeline has since been advocating for slow movement and the importance of wellness. On her journey of self-discovery and leading a life with purpose, she started sharing her practice through teaching Yoga online and with Urban Yogis in Singapore. Find Maddie on IG @madyogithings.