Is Your Yoga Practice Working for You?
Back in 2003, I saw the above photo on the cover of the New Yorker and I did one of those simultaneous laugh-and-sighs, because it really resonated with me. I am not sure if what is happening in the photo is easy to see on here, but it is a Yogini in perfect lotus position with a scowl on her face, because of a nearby fly. Her yoga practice isn’t working for her.
I recalled a job I had in high school when I worked for a man who was married to a very famous yoga teacher. At the time, I wasn’t into yoga, but everyone in the office was and they were all in awe of her. My boss’ secretary was like a mother to me. I loved her dearly. When this famous-yoga-teacher/boss-wife would come in she would be nasty to my friend. I heard yoga was a spiritual practice and after listening to her talk to my friend I thought, “Whatever it is you are doing in that yoga room, it isn’t working.”
Last year my cousin gave me a print of this photo, which now hangs on the wall right outside of my bedroom. Every morning when I leave my room, I see it and am reminded of its message.
I don’t like change. If I have a certain plan and something happens to interfere with that I get all bound up—even if the change is to my benefit. Through yoga I have come to know myself and why I am like that. I have a better understanding of my reactions and have learned how to breathe through them.
Anger is an emotion that is very present in my life. When things don’t go my way, if I don’t feel heard or in control of things, I can react very aggressively. Through yoga I have come to know what it feels like in my body when I am triggered, so that I can address the underlying need instead of projecting it onto others.
By no means has yoga cured me of these things, but it has given me the tools to be aware of them and move through them more skillfully.
This photo reminds me of my intention for my practice, so I don’t get lost in a lull of mindless movement and lose the point of it all.
Sometimes that means I have to change up my practice. If I am continually doing the same five poses over and over and not challenging myself out of my comfort zone and into different shapes and movements it’s harder to learn about my reactions.
I used to hate warrior three. To challenge myself I committed to practicing it every day for a year. I explored new ways to approach it. I played with it using different props. I tried out different ways of breathing in it. There were many days my disdain for it continued, but now I love it.
Yoga is a tool we can use to be complacent, or we can use it to evolve. I choose the latter. How about you, is your yoga practice working for you?
To explore more on that, check out an earlier post: What Does Your Yoga Practice Say About You?