What happens inside when a yoga teacher just effortlessly pops into pose demonstrating something that looks seemingly impossible, painful, and at the very best ego crushing; then gracefully turns and says, “Do you want to try?”
For me the most honest first reaction is, no I don’t want to try that. It looks like it sucks on so many levels why would I want to do that to myself. Then the second phase is guilt; oh god I am here I should want to do this, but I don’t. Cue the voice from the dark pit of despair; “What is wrong with me?” Next is the judging phase; shit everyone else is doing it, if I just lay here on the floor like I really want to everyone is going to think I am weak, quitter, and shutter and unenlightened shitty yogi. The final stage of yoga grief for me is often anger. Do I want to try that, F$*#k no I don’t want to try that. And f*&#k you for even insinuating that I should be able to do that or want to do that, why don’t you just levitate off into the corner and stick those fancy yoga pants a little further up where the sun don’t shine. And all of this often for me happens in the time it takes to exhale.
Sometimes we talk about how “yoga can bring up all kinds of emotions”. But, it is not often that we talk about how shitty those emotions can be. And past that we hardly ever talk about the process of moving through the stuff that comes up on the mat.
So what is it that keeps us coming back? What is on the other side of all of those emotions? How do we move through all of this “stuff” and bend over and stick our knees up in our armpits over and over again. What are we ultimately gaining?
For me this emotional portion of the yoga challenge is one of the most powerful parts of my practice. Allowing myself the freedom to fully experience this process and striving to move through the process without judgement. If I’m not busy judging myself then ultimately it is much more efficient because I can truncate the forgiveness phase. What is find often most interesting, taking a step back and seeing how I process this challenge. It is truly a window into how I process many difficulties in life. Resistance, self judgement, fear of others finding me deficient, and then outward anger is a mirror to how I process many of my trials and tribulations. Looking deeper at this allows me the freedom to grow in self love and appreciation and makes room for much deeper and fulfilling relationships with others. So as much as I want to look and feel like a yogi super star sticking my knees up in my armpits and launching into the perfect crow I also want to practice self love and patience.
So, why do we keep doing this? Because staying on that mat and saying YES is a gateway to growth. The benefits are abundant, and immediate. I for one feel stronger both on the inside and the outside. When life throws me a situation that seems impossible and pain full and says, “Do you want to try” I am strong enough and practiced at saying yes that I will try and I will embrace the lessons in failing. And in that failing I will continue to love and nurture myself. When I look back on the journey of trying I can see progress and growth, and the result is beautiful.