I’ve spent years loving and pushing myself in power yoga and vinyasa yoga. I loved the physical benefits and feeling the growth and toning in my body.
It took a while for me to notice that the voice in my head driving me was a drill sergeant, never satisfied, constantly competing and pushing. I suffer from an insatiable desire for more, to perform more, to improve, to gain.
And then I had to stop. I had to slow down. I was burning up my body due to my ceaselessly driven mind. At first I blamed the world. Those yoga teachers and studios were pushing me. Those people on the mats next to me were too athletic, physically chiseled … fill in whatever I could blame. But I was really confronting my own feeling of inadequacy, the quality of my own practice and my need to slow down and stop running from myself or beating myself up.
I was experiencing duhkha, or suffering, in my physical asana practice and in my mind, whether I was doing or not doing. I have a ceaseless, never ending desire for more. I didn’t know how to be content or find peace. I was dissatisfied driving myself hard. I was dissatisfied slowing down.
Through meditation, study, and honing my focus on my intention in my practice I’ve gotten to confront this hungry craving, which is actually the seed of my discontentment or duhkha. It’s not the actual posture. My suffering is caused by my craving or expectation, rather than being in the now and experiencing what’s going on and making a choice and acting on that choice for ease and peace. My suffering is caused often by my non-acceptance of me as I am in this moment – at rest, or going-going-going.
I no longer want to get on my mat to hold a longer boat pose or do a more complex arm balance. I want to come to my mat to discover how I’m living with or against my truth. I come to my mat to explore how willing I am to seek balance and harmony in my truth.
Acceptance and contentment (santosha) help me set boundaries, respect others, and give myself acts of love and forgiveness.
It doesn’t mean I don’t strive to grow in my body. But I get to do it breath by breath, day by day, with less fight and struggle.
I don’t practice internal or external yoga warfare any more. And I’m grateful.
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