I’m going to come clean and admit that there are many occasions during my practice when I experience yoga resentment. Have you?
If you've ever shown up at a class after a rough day at work, but you walked out feeling more grisly then before, you may have experienced yoga resentment. You thought that a dose of spirituality would help you rebalance your zen––so what happened?
You might have looked around the room and discovered that everyone was wearing the latest designer yoga pants and matching tank, while you had on some unflattering, baggy T-shirt from the early 90s, and unattractive shorts. Maybe you noticed the girl in the front row that executes every position perfectly, while you struggled every step of the way. Or that guy over there, who always shows off his Pigeon Pose, or those girls laughing in the back row... Wait, why are they laughing?!
Does any of that sound familiar to you?
It happens to me all the time… And being a yoga instructor, I also sometimes manage to hate on the yoga teacher myself. Why is she/he saying that? Why are we doing this posture that way? What is that ridiculous lotus tattoo on their foot?
Yeah, that’s me, and I’m willing to admit it. Because self-awareness is half the battle. And not admitting to it means that it’ll just end up eating you away on the inside.
So here are the five steps I take to overcome yoga resentment:
1. Leave your ego at the door.
I once had a yoga teacher who would tell her students to leave their ego at the door. It took me a long time to figure out what she meant (it might seem an easy concept, but it can be very challenging when actually put into practice).
Essentially it means, you’re not your expensive yoga outfit, your mala beads, nor your perfect Tree Pose. Leave that all at the door when you walk through it––your appearance, your day, and your thoughts. Walk on in there like a newborn baby, free from inhibitions and baggage. You might even want to imagine yourself setting down an actual bag of physical/emotional content at the door.
2. Give the door a symbolic context.
It’s a threshold you’re walking through––taking you to a different place where you are a different person. It’s a portal to your practice and highest self. Once you step over that invisible line in the sand, you are no longer the person you were before you walked into the studio.
When in the room, only listen to the teacher’s words. Research tells us that we’re only able to remember 25 to 50 percent of what people tell us within a ten minute conversation. That means, we were only listening, at best, half the time. It’s a staggering statistic!
When you’re in a yoga class, try to listen carefully to everything the yoga teacher is saying. This will allow you to go deeper into your practice, and hear new things about each asana which you might not previously have noticed. Not to mention, listening carefully will also keep you from focusing on unwanted distractions around the room (like the grunt from the gentleman next to you when he transitions from plank to Chaturanga).
4. Focus only on yourself.
Lean toward complete introspection in the yoga room. That means try not to look at anyone else in the room. If there’s a mirror in front of you, only look at yourself. If there’s no mirror, find a drishti (focal point) within the room and look at that. The focal point is not a person, unless of course one of the boys from One Direction or Lady Gaga has chanced upon your Bikram class today … then, it’s sort of warranted. (This would usually be followed by a wink emoticon.)
5. Yoga is not about the perfection of the pose.
Always remember yoga is not about how awesome your Warrior II is. You might have perfect form, but your mental form is far from perfect. What you’re really working on in the yoga room is the union between your purusha (pure consciousness) and prakriti (the physical form). Yoga is about the unseen, intangible elements of your practice. Don’t forget it!
Yoga is about the journey… Your journey toward finding the inner you. Nobody else is on it with you. Have fun with your practice, and kick that yoga resentment to the curb!
Photo by Amanda Michaels-Zech