What Our Practices Tell Us

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Via Flickr User Bing Ramos

Lordy, SXSW can really keep you busy. I’m taking a night off of the festivities out of pure necessity.

I’ve still managed to make it to two yoga classes this week despite all the craziness. But I’ve noticed that I’m feeling a little different after my yoga practices lately. I don’t feel as big and profound of a shift afterward–perhaps that’s a good thing, and it means I’m doing well enough to not need any big shifts right now. But I find myself craving them nevertheless, wishing for another meditation that takes me to a deeper level of understanding about my experiences and emotions. The last few yoga practices have felt more about the physical aspects of the asanas and not a whole lot beyond that. The classes themselves haven’t been much different; it’s just that I’ve been feeling differently during and afterward. I feel as though I may be numbing myself, but I’m not sure what exactly I’m trying to escape from–I just know that I’ve been disconnected from the more spiritual side of my yoga practice.

And when I think about it, maybe I’m feeling a little disconnected in general.

It’s a question I’ve learned to ask: What is my yoga telling me about my life?

I might feel angry at the instructor for making us hold that plank for F****** YEARS, or I might feel appreciative of the simple joy of movement, or I might feel crestfallen that I can’t do a pose as well as I’d like. Whatever my experience of a practice might be like, I’ve always found that it can tell me something about–brace yourself, I’m about to sound like a hippie again–my inner self.

Writing is also one of my happy things. Writing about yoga, as I have on this blog, has led me to some pretty significant revelations. The two practices have more in common than I realized: with both of them, I’ve stopped practicing when I began to fear that whatever I was doing wasn’t “good enough.” I’ve been afraid that blog posts that inevitably will (at least sometimes) be riddled with grammatical errors and clichés don’t deserve to exist and afraid that yoga practices where I don’t advance or improve my postures aren’t worth having. That’s when I start wanting to force metaphors to make my writing more graceful and profound, or wanting to force yoga poses I’m not ready for–and trying force anything always leads to a bad experience.

It’s that little perfectionistic asshat (which is obviously the yogic term, but AKA “ego”) that exists in all of our minds. We hear its voice–perhaps it sounds like us, or like a critical person from our past or present lives, or it sounds like something foreign and frightening. In any case, it can be paralyzing.

Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly, offers a simple but effective mantra:

I am enough.

My writing isn’t perfect, my yoga isn’t perfect, I’m not perfect. But I am enough.

It can be difficult to let go and just practice without expectation or judgement. But that’s when we do enable ourselves to evolve.

Questions:

What does your yoga practice teach you? Or, if you don’t practice yoga, have you discovered something else that helps you gain a new perspective? 

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One response to “What Our Practices Tell Us

  1. I can relate to this post. Sometimes life just ‘goes along’ seemingly without deep meaning or profound discoveries. I find these stretches of time restful, a time to catch up with myself (so to speak), and get the laundry done (both literally and metaphorically). I enjoy the routine of those times. And, sure enough, just when I’m getting bored with the day to day routine, something happens to liven things up, throw a wrench in the works, or just shake things up so the predictable suddenly become unpredictable, exciting, scary, or interesting.
    Hang in there!

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