You do not have to be good.

I remember the first time a poem saved my life.

These lines…

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.”

A poem by Mary Oliver, read by a dear teacher in a yoga class, on a day where those lines cut right through the haze of doubt, fear, and anxiety I was feeling about my life.

The magic of the yoga room is not simply that we can make funky shapes with our body. Or sweat. Or up our endorphin level. Or nail a particular pose.

Those things might happen, but the magic is more subtle, quiet even (similar to poetry, perhaps).

And therefore often goes unnoticed behind the shinier, external aspects.

It’s the warmth of those walls around us, the people we join in communion — moving body, breath, and heart.

That one hour of the day when each of us is simply and directly engaging with the present moment, the uncertainty of being human, and learning how to be with it all.

Below, before, and beneath any idea of what it means to be “good” or “bad” is simply to be.

If you didn’t have to be good, how would you be?