So, my teaching schedule has recently taken on a life of it’s own. I am teaching about 12 hours of yoga a week which I thought might take all the heart out of my instruction. I find that it has actually been pretty amazing. I am teaching such a broad range of ages and backgrounds, and it’s incredible how all of these different people can find something in this yoga practice that is for them.
I am teaching teens at a local private school, and many of them have never practiced yoga. So, I am demonstrating much more, and sometimes doing yoga for three hours a day. Last week, I started experiencing some pain in the sacral area of my spine which have made some twists and back bends painful. I frequently tell my students to modify, to be in their bodies with it’s capabilities in this moment, and to be kind to themselves without judgment. Yet, I am fascinated that when I’m in class and everyone is doing Wheel, and I can’t do it, the self-judgments pop up in my mind.
You should be able to do this.
Everyone thinks you are lazy.
Maybe you should try to push through it.
Does it even hurt that bad? Are you even trying?
Get over it, and do it anyway.
The same thoughts are there that have always been there, but I have noticed a difference. The thought happens that I should be doing Prayer Twist with the rest of the group instead of modifying, and I stay. I hear the thought, “Everyone is staring at you because you are doing something different” and I just breathe. The mind will swirl with all of these thoughts, hit in those places it usually hurts, and I make the choice to stay. I notice that these thoughts happen, and I don’t feel upset. I hear the harsh judgments of “lazy, liar, crazy” and nothing happens because I don’t believe those things about myself anymore.
In Ana Forrest’s book, Fierce Medicine, she talks about how meditation is like sitting on a park bench and watching cars drive by. You don’t see a pretty car and get up to chase it down the road. You just watch it pass. Sometimes, we get into yoga and meditation because we think it will make all those bad thoughts stop. I wish I could tell my students that those bad thoughts stop with regular practice, but they probably won’t ever stop. Yoga teaches us that with breath, movement, and stillness we can be fully present to be the witness of all of it: the good, bad, painful, and pleasurable, just to finally come to know exactly who we are. I still hear the negative self-talk. Yoga just showed me that I can’t believe everything I hear.