The Hard and Soft of Yoga

Many of my great teachers have told me that if you have a connection to yoga in your current life, you were probably a yogi in a former life and are simply continuing on your journey. I was certainly a yogini in a former life but there are some parts of my yogic journey I haven’t quite reconciled with yet and who knows for how many life times I have carried them given their depth. This is a difficult post and one of honesty and confusion. 

Firstly, this is by no means a post bashing yoga or any of the teachers I’ve had, yoga is quite simply my love and passion and I believe in the science of yoga with my whole heart. As I have previously written yoga has had a profound effect on my life and although, I have always been quite interested in health and well-being various stints of vegetarianism and a slight herbal tea obsession. Yoga was a natural progression from my love of dance although, I understand they are fundamentally different, dancers are often used to being ‘in’ their bodies, I found a sense of familiarity with my classical dance training and this is possibly the root of where my practices of self-loathing began.

My life was quickly revolutionised by yoga, I was aware of my health, mind and body. To begin with I cried a lot with yoga; during class, after class, practicing at home I know that the crying yogi isn’t an unusual phenomenon especially someone like me who naturally sensitive and empathetic- I cry often anyway. (my mother says she will title her memoir I had a daughter who wept) 

Here in lies the problem; yogi’s are held in such high regard- disciplined, calm, navigating and negotiating problems with a rational poise and ease or not having any attachment to the problem to begin with. Right? So when I’m melting down, screaming at my husband or reaching for a bottle of wine at the end of a hard day am I still a yogi? When I don’t have the discipline to roll out my mat two days in a row? Or feel as though I would trade my first born for some hot chips? Often, I find I berate myself planting seeds of hate of how I think I should be behaving, eating, speaking, practicing yoga and dealing with problems.

Awareness and mindfulness are one thing, self destruction is something completely different and I feel that my evolution is teetering on the edge of self-destruction.  I spoke of my sensitivity, yoga makes us more sensitive not only on a physical level, but, we tune into our bodies, mind and energies with a different clarity. I have read articles on how yoga isn’t for everyone as it increases this sensitivity (although, I’d still say yoga is for everyone 🙂 ) . 

These seeds of hate increasingly, make me lose the ability to see the times I roll out my mat, the wonderful nourishing things I do for my body and mind everyday. I often hear my friends saying horrible things about themselves and I wince at the harshness. I often say “would you speak to a child like that?” or “would you say that to Buddha?” But, my internal dialogue spits harshness and hatefulness in varying degrees to me everyday.

My yoga practice allows me to identify with the child inside me and hate it at the same time and then judge myself for doing it. The hard and soft of yoga. Yoga teaches us to not judge, yet i have become an extremist at self-judgement, the scariest part is I have become so good at explaining, or even ‘preaching’ a message of the importance of self-love and acceptance to others. 

Lately, I have had a few headaches which is very uncommon for me and pain in my left jaw joint, it is sensitive to the touch and substantially worse when I’m self-loathing. This is tension caused through the hate I feel about myself I hold my mouth hard, often biting the inside of my mouth until it bleeds and then I get angry at myself for doing it!

This is a physical response and a great example of how negativity impacts us physically. A bad thought is not dissimilar to slapping yourself in the face or periodically holding your finger over a naked flame. While physical self- harm seems outrageous to me, it is exactly what I am practicing and it certainly has no place in my yoga practice or life. 

So how do I fix this? Practice self-love? 

Sounds easier than I think it is but, today I start. I start celebrating the small stuff and letting go of my own harsh expectations. I will begin melting the hate and finding the love. If you identify with anything I have written I urge you to do the same thing. 

 

With namaste and love

xxxxx

 

 

2013

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2012 was such a great year, so many wonderful things have happened; I’m now half way through yoga teacher training, married, have given the house 2 mega spring cleans, am a year older but most importantly I made it through and that is a wonderful achievement all in itself, if you’re reading this- you too made it through- well done!

I used to go over the top every New Year and set myself up for feeling pretty shitty about myself, by making up complicated New Year resolutions that even by my own admission, a few were quite crazy.

For 2013, the wonderful first year of marriage and our first overseas travels and the end of yoga teacher training I’m focusing my attention on the Yama’s and Niyama’s , the Yama’s and Niyama’s are the first two petals of the 8 petal system we know as yoga, and they are basically observances and restraints for skillful living.

The yamas are; ahimsa/non violence, satya/honesty, asteya/non stealing, brahmacharya/ continence, aparigraha/ non greed

The niyamas are; saucha/ cleanliness of body and mind (inside and out!), santosha/contentment, tapas/heat fire- this is interpreted as the fire we build up inside through asana, pranayama and meditation helping us to become the best we can be. Svadhyaya/self study, Ishvara- Pranidhara/ is acting the best way we can, and relinquishing all attachment to the outcome of our actions.

They are blissfully easy and things we practice daily, to certain extent, you can see how their meanings also represent an opposite for example if you are practicing ahimsa or non-violence you are at the same time practicing compassion. Someone practicing santosha/contentment is also working hard to let go of things which do not serve them.

In 2013 I will try to be more aware of my observances and restraints, praise myself for doing something positive for myself and judge myself less when I do something less than perfect.

(I have also vowed to juice each day, get in the garden and master some sirsasana variations and I’m sure ahimsa and santosha will help me if it happens or not :))

I would like to leave you with the beautiful words of gorgeous yogini, Elena Brower

‘My intentions for the new year: Say less, listen more. Work less, sleep more. Judge less, love more’

May your 2013 be simple, inspiring, filled with happiness and health.

Namaste xx