I’ve been attached to styles, to teachers, to places, to poses, to achieving certain poses, to “understanding,” to meditation, to being at yoga a certain number of times per week, and everything in between.
“If I don’t get handstand, I am not a “good” yogi and therefore need to work harder.”
“If I don’t go to yoga at least three times per week, I must be lazy and un-yogic.”
“If I don’t sweat in every class, I clearly haven’t pushed myself hard enough/the teacher isn’t pushing me hard enough”
The attachment has been constant, overwhelming and sometimes detrimental to my physical and spiritual health. I’ve battled more injuries and mental breakdowns than ever this year, and it’s not a pattern I’d like to bring into the new year.
I’ve spent the past four year getting into increasingly cooler looking arm-balances, binds, twists and inversions, all the while striving adamantly for more *something.* Perhaps more yoga juju? More yogic “street cred”? More proving myself? I’m not entirely sure.
What’s happened though, is that I burned myself out fast and hard last year. In one year, I went from yogi-on-fire to a steaming, hissing pile of yogic ashes–all while being my best year of asana to date.
Ironically, I’ve started out virtually every yoga class with an intention for inner peace and calm, and what I’ve been doing is pushing with near rabid enthusiasm toward being “impressive.” It’s time to change the paradigm for myself.
I’m going into 2012 with an emphasis on finding that inner peace, for real this time. I’m cutting my yoga asana practice in half and doubling my meditation at home/at work. This year I’m putting the mantra “balancing effort and ease” at the top of my mind in asana class, fearlessly holding back where I might otherwise push forward.
See, I’ve been taking a disproportionate number of classes recently with Todd LaBerge at Atlanta Hot Yoga, who often asks, “if you want to move to a more advanced version of a pose, first ask yourself why.”
In some cases, it’s natural for me to do a more fully expressed version of a pose. In many other cases, however, my answer comes back to the “getting more yogic street cred” thing. Of course, it’s true when they say you’ll never know how much you can grow until you push yourself–but this year, I’m moving away from my attachment to the practice, the studio, and the poses and toward using yoga to access that inner calm that I go to class to find.
You do not need to share my intention, but I hope you’ll understand it. I understand wanting to get into a handstand to for the physical and spiritual rush of facing fears and life with a playful spirit. But as for me, I’m practicing yoga within myself for a while.