A Fresh Perspective on Yoga Practice
"Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibilities, and most people are frightened of them." -Sigmund Freud
Have you ever revamped the way you look at your yoga practice? For the past six months, I have been doing just that—adjusting habitual thought patterns, evaluating my ego, and releasing the notion that my happiness is dependent on outside sources. Tough questions, right?
It’s been quite the process. At times it’s been downright ugly, with me leaving my yoga mat in tears after a few sun salutations. To the untrained eye, yoga may look like a bunch of beautiful postures linked together by flowing movement and deep breathing. To the practitioner, it’s some of the hardest work we’ll ever do.
The practitioner has the ability to bring about spiritual growth and profound self-realizations when practicing yoga with consistency, humility, and an open heart. However, if left unchecked, the practitioner can dilude themselves and facilitate heartbreak.
For a while, I was preoccupied with the physical practice of yoga. At first, it was exhilarating; my body changed rapidly, enabling me to feel strong and capable. I moved through postures quickly and never struggled on anything for more than a few months. I developed a sense of purpose that was lacking in my life… I WAS A YOGI! Nothing could get in my way.
And then shit got hard and my facade started to crumble.
I had no idea that my reliance on the physicality of yoga was actually delusion. I was equating self-worth with the strength I felt while practicing and with each new posture I was given. When my body started breaking down because of the unrealistic physical expectations I had set for myself, my mind began to break down as well. What was once exhilarating became tumultuous; I felt weak and fucked up. I stopped moving through postures and the false sense of purpose I had created began to diminish. I could no longer clearly see the path forward.
It has taken a while to dig myself out of the hole of disillusionment I created. I’m a work in progress. However, the seed of self-awareness has been sown and my bullshit meter is now on high alert. I check in with myself regularly to assess where I am and to take a deeper look at any habitual thought patterns. I observe my ego and ask difficult questions in order to minimize egotistical tendencies. And as far as happiness goes? Nothing outside of myself can make me happy or unhappy; I am fully responsible for the way that I feel. The phrase “I am the problem, I am the solution” is one that I repeat often.
Does any of this sound familiar? Have you ever revamped your yoga practice or called yourself out on your own bullshit? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from introspection. It’s hard work and will stir up emotions and feelings of discomfort. But if you take the time to sit with what arrises, freedom can be found.