I took a week off practicing yoga while I was traveling over the New Year in Germany. I don’t know how your transition back to your yoga mat went – or maybe your gym, park, pilates, cross-fit, spinning, TRX or whatever it is – but I felt stiff, heavy and rusty my first practice back. All that delicious German food and beer, playing in the Black Forest and airplane, train and car rides with no yoga, well, it left me basically crawling to my mat the morning after I got home.
One of my favorite things about yoga, though, is that it’s all about showing up and consciously breathing. You don’t have to do handstands, chaturangas or warrior poses to make it a complete practice; you can lay down on your back with some pillows for comfort, consciously breathe and pay attention to the sensations in your body. That’s yoga – being completely present and aware of your body, mind and soul in whatever position it is in, even off the mat. But, you have to show up first in order to do that, on your mat and in your life.
So I showed up on my mat and I put on a yoga class online at Yogis Anonymous (my favorite yoga class site!). I breathed and practiced with Ally, modifying here and there and slowing down a bit, and it was a little rough. But, that’s okay because I was there.
Yoga is not a performance or competition; it’s a practice. You don’t have to be at your best to be on your mat. That’s basically the opposite theory of yoga because yoga is about getting rid of the ego. Not completely, we all need some form of an ego, but you know that ego that just has to be and thinks it is better than others, it’s that ego yoga is stripping away.
“It doesn’t matter how deep into a posture you go. What does matter is who you are when you get there.” – Max Strom
You learn a lot about yourself on the yoga mat. It’s basically a mirror revealing to you whom you really are. I learned I was extremely hard on myself, took life too seriously, was a perfectionist and competitive – ego alert! I didn’t want to be those things. One beautiful thing about the practice of yoga is that it’s designed to release that, if that’s what you want and if you dedicate yourself to your practice, continuing to show up and giving it a chance.
When I took my first yoga class I couldn’t touch my toes, come into wheel pose or even want to try to be upside down. I also was beating myself up along the way, disappointed and frustrated rather than curious and excited. It took over 10 years of practicing yoga for my hamstrings to really open up and come just inches into a full forward split. I won’t reach enlightenment when I get there and I won’t magically be happier or fuller. I’ll just have some open pretty hamstrings. It took about 6 years of practicing yoga, along with other tools like positive affirmations and healthy eating, to truly love all of me. And I’m still working on my ego. It’s all still a daily practice, just like yoga.
There’s no timeline on when you’ll “release your ego” just like there is not timeline on when or if you’ll come into full splits or a handstand. That’s not the point, though, or your job. Your job is to show up, breath, be present and practice your yoga. You don’t have to perfect it; you simply have to practice it.
I’d love to hear from YOU! How do you show up in your life? Do you practice yoga? If not, what do you do to move your body? What do you love about your practice?
If you’re in Athens, Greece you can come practice yoga and play with me Monday and Wednesdays 8:15-9:30 at Maya Yogashala in a Vinyasa all levels class.
Sending you love and support on your journey,