Using Your Out Loud Voice for Good

“I am fit like a jet!” declared an uber-confident feminine voice from behind my folded child-posed body positioned in what was formerly the last row of sunrise yoga students.  The picturesque outdoor mountain-view gathering had grown by two additional women, one of whom seemed particularly at ease with her not-so-subtle entrance into what had otherwise been a quiet and peaceful gathering.

The interruption brought to mind a YouTube video of a Tibetan monk explaining, “The reason you focus on breathing is to give mind a job…focus on breathing and mind follows.” I set out to quiet my busy brain, repeating to myself, “I am breathing in. <pause> I am breathing out. <pause> I am breathing in. <pause> I am breathing out.”

“I have a personal trainer and I do all kinds of fitness activities!” fit-as-a-jet girl went on to announce while flipping her mat open and positioning it on the new last row, displacing some of the bright multi-colored rubber pieces that dotted the grass – the last remaining evidence of yesterday’s scheduled water balloon fight.  Curious about our new classmate, I quickly peeked through a slightly opened flickering eye while still trying to narrate my breathing: “I am breathing in. I am breathing out.”

In an instant, I’m wondering about fit-jet girl’s motives, something that is not encouraged and largely, I am sure, in violation of rule #118, section A of the yoga student’s guide to enlightenment – leave all judgment at the door.  Is she informing the class of her skills in anticipation of a yoga performance worthy of drawing attention away from our focused breathing? Or is she simply serving notice that at any time she could, with the utterance of a spell and three full body turns, a clap of thunder and flash of lightning, morph into an intergalactic superhero who, in between downward dogs, could hop on her invisible jet plane and fly off to save the world?

“Still your mind, Genevieve,” I tell myself as I slowly re-engage in my remedial yoga mantra. “I am breathing in.<pause> I am breathing out. I am breathing in. I am…”

Fit like a jet?  What kind of jet? A small jet? Lear jet? Jumbo jet? How exactly does that work? I’d never heard such a thing and was distracted by the endless iterations of half-jet, half-woman images that played in my mind. My inner eye’s visions were interrupted by the continuing narrative on every single pose by this self-anointed sunrise yoga commentator.

“Oh, that feels sooooo good!!” followed by many versions and pitches of “Yes! Oh, yes, I like yoga! I do like yoga!” Every pose had an equally effusive response. We’d pose. She’d voice her feelings.  We’d pose again. She’d praise yoga like I praise a piece of ridiculously delicious vegan cheesecake. And on it went. She was only silent during the Warrior 2 pose when her feet, not spread wide enough, caused her jet-fit self to topple, allowing every piece of surrounding balloon confetti to stick to the exposed skin of her arms and calves. As jet-fit girl flicked colorful rubber flakes from her arm, the yoga instructor said with the single most genuine smile and expression of love, “Those simple things are harder than they seem.”

I steadied my sweaty Warrior 2-posed body, desperate to avoid the taunting water balloon confetti on either side of my mat. I heard Jetty re-balance, re-align, and re-establish her reign as yoga commentator. And, after overhearing a comment about Happy Baby pose being renamed Happy Lady pose, I found myself, like the rest of the yoga class, breathing in and then breathing out giggles, laughs, and pig snorts, momentarily turning sunrise yoga into laughing yoga.

I have to admit, at one point I was tempted to advise my fellow jetty yoga friend, “Sister, you are at about a 12 on the 10-point yoga intensity scale. This is yoga. Dial it down a bit. We need you at like a nice Namaste nine or, preferably, a savvy Savasana 6.” But I didn’t.

The fact is, the more she commented, declared, and enjoyed, the more admiration I had for the fit jet. It really wasn’t about her self-proclaimed fitness level; it was about the dynamic energy that surrounds the self-assured.  People are hugely attracted to those who are confident about who they are, what they can do, and where they are going. By displaying and praising her authentic self, she had raised the energy of the whole class and united us together in her joy.

She was super comfortable in acknowledging herself – thus the “I am fit as a jet” affirmation. I wondered how many times a week she tells herself that, and wondered about the positive impact it has on her life. As women, most of us fuss about our figures and tragically reinforce a poor self-image.  Somehow, she escaped, or unlearned, the negative programming that tells us self-praise, self-assurance, and self-reliance are not only forms of vanity and arrogance but are also in direct conflict with all the important character attributes of a successful employee, wife, or mother.

Fit as a Jet Girl is now my new idol. I don’t know her and will probably never see her again, which solidifies in my mind the importance of owning your inner bad ass. Had she not owned it enough to be comfortable sharing it with the rest of the room, we would have been denied that gift. Too often, we as women don’t own it – quite the alternative, we starve our inner selves of the vital affirmations we need to flourish. If we could just amp it up, own it, embrace it, experience it, and comment on it with each of our unique out-loud voices, we could help support each other in a genuine and authentic way. The ripple effect would be amazing and, dare I say, timely.

The expression “Fit as a Jet” was not meant to incite competition or feelings of inadequacy. Instead, it was an invitation – an invitation to aspire to be more, to ground yourself in self-love, and to declare it with your out-loud voice.

Here’s where I landed. Take note. Join in.

  1. Accept the challenge of stepping into being powerful and having great character. These things are not mutually exclusive; they are two sides of the same coin.
  2. Own your awesome with your out-loud voice. You be the first to say, “Well done. I did it!” “I’m fit as a jet.” “I’m good at this!” or “I’m a total rock star.” Look for reasons to shout it out regularly.
  3. Validate other women around you and hold them accountable for owning their awesome. Let’s stop using the parental phrase, “I am so proud of you,” and consider replacing it with, “You should be very proud of yourself!” You can be proud to know someone or be proud to call them friend, but let’s help each other cultivate our own individual sense of pride.

Namaste, Fit Like a Jet girl, and thank you for sharing your version of inner-validation yoga. I’m trading in my “fit as a slinky” for “fit as a jet,” and I’ll proudly apply this phrase to my life daily. It was well worth having my focused breathing take a back seat to picking up what you were laying down.

Rock on with your balloon-speckled self and continue to bring your self-assured energy to the world and all that you do. Thanks for doing the do today!