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On Saturday, August 28, the YJ Instagram (*cough* shameless plug to follow us @yogajournal) reposted a Reel of a yoga teacher doing something a bit different. Instead of showcasing a practice or inversions, this yoga teacher went through a series of challenging poses she can’t do—from Handstand to Lotus Pose to a forearm balance. The post blew up. As of now, it has over 100,000 views and more than 220 comments. So, why did people connect to this so much?
Lee Al-Atraqchi, 23, the teacher behind the post, says it goes back to something integral to her own practice—being authentic and vulnerable. “When you try to be perfect, you’re not being authentically yourself,” she says. “You’re never going to connect with the right people around you when you’re trying to be perfect.”
This image of perfection is plastered all over social media. It makes sense—yogis want to celebrate their beautiful and big moments, from nailing that inversion to flowing through a sequence. And we want to celebrate those moments with them, too. However, if you’re struggling to feel confident in your practice, seeing others post perfect poses over and over again can lead to feelings of inadequacy. This phenomenon isn’t exclusive to the yoga community, either. In 2017, 60 percent of social media users reported that these platforms had negatively impacted their self-esteem.
Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable
Those hard yoga poses don’t represent all yogis—something Al-Atraqchi aimed to demonstrate when she posted her Reel. “We’re all at different levels in our practice,” she says. “It’s not all about the poses—it’s about the journey involved. It’s actually kind of fun to not be able to do yoga poses at one point so that you’re still progressing throughout your yoga journey.”
For the 23-year-old Florida yoga teacher, the comfortability with her own practice is something that came with time. Al-Atraqchi started practicing yoga in January 2020—as a New Year’s resolution—and received her teacher certification that fall. Initially, she says it was hard not to compare herself to the teachers around her. Over time, that changed. “I started, in my own practice, trying to learn what that uncomfortable feeling of inadequacy was trying to teach me,” she says. Her conclusion? That she needed to get rid of (or lower) her ego. “It’s just something that I’ve been having to work through, through my own practice—learning to go away with the ego and be OK with not being able to do those crazy poses quite yet.”
Others share the difficult yoga poses they can’t do
On YJ’s Instagram repost of Al-Atraqchi’s Reel, fellow yogis flooded the comment section, sharing the poses they struggle with. For Al-Atraqchi, it felt refreshing to see a mix of teachers and students sharing their own vulnerabilities.
“Crow is a challenge for me,” comments @hallyfromtheblock. “I appreciate this post tremendously.” “Oh praise be, I thought I am broken or something and I am the only one who can’t do lotus asana,” writes @theodorathea7. Others shared similar sentiments. “Honestly appreciate this,” adds @forgetmao. “I have a lot of fear when it comes to inversions and I sometimes come away from class feeling like I’ve let myself down for not being able to accomplish or even try poses. Learning always how to cherish a humbling practice.”
For Al-Atraqchi, these comments underscore the strength of the yoga community. “It was really great to see other people sharing their own vulnerabilities after I shared mine,” she says. For Al-Atraqchi, that kind of vulnerability breeds connection—and we can all use more of that these days.