I took a yoga class today. As a yoga instructor, I take yoga classes a lot. Maybe too much. (Is there such a thing as too much yoga?!)
In all fairness, it was my second yoga class of the day, but I was struggling from the moment l walked in the studio. By struggling, I mean I was trying to talk myself out of taking the class.
I've heard about this from my students, but I am not sure if I have ever experienced the whole, 'hey, I am here to take a yoga class - but I really don't want to be here.'
As soon as I sat on my mat, I wanted to be somewhere else - anywhere else. I secretly wanted to run out of the room and sit on the white couch in the lobby and wait the entire hour for my friend who met me for this class. My mind came up with 96 reasons of why I shouldn’t stay, even though I had made this yoga date with my friend.
I do yoga because I love the calming effect I get. Usually the feeling comes immediately. As soon as I pull up to a yoga studio, let alone roll out my mat, I get an immense feeling of peace and calm. We call this 'dropping in' or becoming 'zenned out', which is an amazing feeling, like the yoga version of a runner's high. But sometimes the mind will struggle to soften and relinquish control.
I was distracted by everything. I was distracted by my low rise yoga pants creeping down to expose my butt crack. I was distracted by my growling stomach and my sore hip. I was distracted by my page-long to do list and my exciting weekend plans. And I was distracted by the teacher's catch phrase, 'so good', that I swear she said 50 times. As I continued this inner dialogue of distraction (and let's be honest, judgement) I felt like a horrible yogi. Maybe yoga instructors are bad students, I think to myself.
The truth is, I have a feeling we all struggle with this, and by this, I mean a struggle with the mind.
Yoga is the ability to direct the mind without distraction or interruption. But sometimes our mind has a mind of it's own. Which can be a real bitch.
In case you are wondering, I didn't roll up my mat and leave class halfway through. And according to the definition above of yoga being the ability to direct the mind, by those standards I may have failed as a yogi today. But what I did learn is that I chose to observe that annoying inner 'ego' voice today, and by doing so, I did eventually 'drop in' to the deep peace that yoga is so synonymous with, even if it took me an entire hour to do so.
In all honesty, sometimes the yoga journey is amazing and fun. We develop profound strength, balance, and flexibility. Sometimes we learn to nail awesome, photo-worthy poses that become cool party tricks. We meet amazing friends and build wonderful community. But we also have to journey within. Which can be so rewarding! By journeying within, we have the powerful ability connect with the deepest parts of our being, our beautiful heart and soul.The flip side of journeying withing is also facing our inner shit. It's two sides of the yoga coin. We learn about our less than desirable thoughts, our bad habits, our bad reactions, what our aversions are, what behaviors we unconsciously engage in that might not be serving us well, and what aspects of our personality or upbringing that we hide behind. Yikes.
So today might not have been my best yoga day ever. But I did learn a heck of a lot. What I really learned today is that maybe I shouldn't do two classes in one day. Or that I should never again wear low-rise yoga pants (seriously, who wears these and successfully does yoga?). I also learned that this journey of yoga, and the sometimes unpleasant path of self-discovery isn't always fun. We get to see what an a@@hole our inner voice can be. Luckily, yoga is a wonderful vehicle of awareness and transformation, filled with lots of magic. The magic happens in learning to sit with the crap that comes up. The magic happens when we can observe our 'less than desirable' traits with some space and tons of self-love. The magic happens when we recognize and accept that we aren't always perfect, and with curiosity leaning in to discover more about ourselves, by just breathing and being.