The more that I’ve heard myself talk about yoga to friends and clients lately, the more honest I’ve been trying to be about the truth behind my relationship to yoga:
I HATE IT.
Okay, “hate” may be strong.
I don’t full on “hate” yoga, but it sure can trigger me, frustrate me, aggravate me. And I’ll definitely hear myself say, “I hate thissssss,” in a quiet, inner-whine some days when I’m practicing.
And yet, I’ll admit, I hear myself talking about yoga in such high regards all the time.
I say things like “I love yoga,” and “Yoga is so great for X, Y, Z.” And in truth, I really do love yoga and all it’s benefits: mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, and on the list goes.
But the truth of it?
Most days, I am cursing yoga.
And not feeling like I’m “loving” it. I’m on my mat peaking behind my shoulder to see when this 75 minute class will end. I’m (figuratively or literally) cursing under my breath with frustration for my body won’t go into a certain pose, or I realize that my breath is too short and shallow, or I realize that I’m thinking about what I’m thinking instead of just going into some blissful, automated mode of “just being.”
Yoga frustrates me more times than not.
But the practice of yoga is meant to put you into these situations.
It means to frustrate you — not because yoga is a twisted, sadistic practice. It’s because any practice of self-awareness and self-observation is going to thrust you into confronting all sides of yourself: the good, the beautiful, the ugly.
And that’s the heart of yoga:
In spite of the frustrations it can cause, I love yoga because the journey of yoga is a lifelong practice in self-observation.
The frustration is a part of the practice just as much as Warrior II, breathing deeply or being present. Yoga’s triggering moments exist to serve you.
The practice forces you into your present state of being, whether you’re cursing yoga or your partner; bummed that the weather cancelled your flight or elated about a new job prospect. Yoga brings you into a state of self-knowing.
And when I hit the mat — whether I’m in some lucid state of “transcendent being” or feeling like a grumpy, inflexible dude — I become aware of wherever I’m at.
Yoga is a practice and engaging in that practice reflects your state of being back to you like a mirror.
It shows you where your head and heart are at, right now. Yoga allows you to open yourself up if you’re feeling too closed off — maybe a bad day, maybe some stresses on the mind, maybe you’ve just forgotten that people are everything and that’s why you’ve felt so isolated within yourself lately.
Yoga challenges you to look within. Deeper. And then deeper than that.
I love the art of yoga because engaging in the practice on an almost-daily basis (when I’m really in a good groove) shows me so much of myself, and from this state of self-awareness, I can appropriately respond to whatever I want, need and desire that day, week or month.
The journey we live in this life is requires a lot of awareness so that we can adapt and respond to where we are. We’re ever-changing, us humans. The world we live in is ever-changing, too. And so what we want, need and desire are not static objects of our desire but “moving targets” as my friend Gem often says to me.
Yoga is something that I can tap into for an hour a day to understand where I am right now — what challenges I’m avoiding, what emotional cravings my heart desires, what mental goals and objects I must move towards, what I can do without.
This is what yoga is meant to be for all of us:
A personal practice that masquerades as a divine spiritual and physical art-form.
We engage in the art of yoga to become more and more self-aware — to the point where the practice is easier, simpler, more direct and thus we’re each more responsive to what we need without needing to spend an abundance of time, effort or energy understanding ourselves.
And the most beautiful thing?
As we each deepen the existence of our being to understand the human being that we are, we, in turn, begin to better understand other human beings.
We see ourselves more in one another. The differences and “distance” that seems to separate us dissipate.
We feel more true to ourselves, and in turn, feel more connected to every other soul — no different than our own.
If it takes 75 minutes of frustration to get there, I suppose the journey of yoga is quite worth it.