Thursday, January 8, 2009

What I Learned From Yoga

In the middle of my yoga class I realized how even my practice of yoga has evolved in the same direction as the way I live my life. In the beginning, I just did the poses trying to do it right, not fall over or embarrass myself. As it progressed, I pushed myself with every class, trying to improve, do what I couldn’t do in the beginning. Later on, in an attempt to stay in the moment, I held on to every word my teacher said. “Move your sacrum towards the ceiling while keeping your tail bone towards the ground”, I would go into my body and imagine those instructions from the inside. I tried so hard to be the good student but also to be in the moment. As I practiced this and realized that I wasn’t getting any better or more flexible, I started the harsh dialogue with myself. I would push myself and insisted on doing the advanced poses, no modifications were necessary.

After I hurt myself and thought that maybe yoga isn’t it for me, I tried another way of showing up to my classes. I went with my teacher’s words to the same places they took me, in my shoulder blades, into my abdomen, feeling every muscle and bone and the desire to move or not to move, as the instructions demanded. This time however, I did not evaluate myself. This time I was the observer in my body. I noticed what I could do and what I couldn’t. I observed my own frustrations and amazingly enough, as soon as I became the observer, the frustrations melted away. It was as if I had a friend, or a gentle witness embedded in my own body and aware of every breath and every strain and every movement and every stillness. Then the poses didn’t last like an eternity, even my least favorite ones. I had a friend with me, one who knew exactly how I felt and allowed me to get comfortable or uncomfortable in that feeling. I was not alone anymore…

This didn’t last too long. Once I gave in to wherever it was I was at with my practice, I started noticing that my teacher was becoming frustrated with my lack of progress. In addition, I noticed that I relied too much on her instructions. Both these factors were feeding into each other. This disturbed me as I thought that she was more enlightened than me. I found myself trying to please her once again. I stopped trusting myself and being ok with where I was at. I was just following the instructions.

So I had to leave. I write this with great sadness, sadness for losing a loyal friend, one whom I relied on for a long time. But I use this opportunity as an example to let go of all that does not serve me anymore. There comes a time in every relationship where you outgrow each other. Perhaps that is when your connection does not allow for any more new growth or expansion. And for those who think that yoga is a kind of stretching exercise routine, they are right. It stretches you inside and out.


seeker444 said...

Thanks, I have bookmarked your blog!

Sherry Bakhtian said...

Thanks for stopping by seeker444!