Have you ever farted during yoga class? Don’t be embarrassed. I bet most yoga teachers have done it (self-included). That’s the last time I’ll ever eat refried beans before restorative yoga...
It stinks to feel self-conscious. Yoga is all about looking inward. That’s hard to do when your mind is like, “OMG that smells awful and everyone will know it was me…I wish I could disappear like a ninja!”
Don’t worry. I didn’t write an entire blog post about the woes of passing gas in yoga class. That would be 100% insane. I still have approximately 10% of my sanity left, thank you very much. Where were we?
Downward-dog makes me feel self-conscious.
That pose is my arch-nemesis. Once, I was at glowga (it’s exactly what it sounds like – yoga poses done in a dark room with glow sticks – try it sometime!), and my feet finally touched the ground after years of practice.
I felt proud and told my Facebook friends. The triumph didn’t last. My yoga teacher saw that status update and pulled me aside after class. She said my feet only touched the ground, because I did the pose wrong. Whoops. My ego got pissed off. It’s such a diva.
Down Dog was a common part of most classes I had taken in the past. Why didn’t those teachers say anything? I don’t know. Whatever the case may be, I placed way too much weight on my shoulders. Alignment doesn’t interest me enough to discuss in-depth, but you can read about it here.
I didn’t feel any differently about down-dog in my first yoga class. It blew my mind when the teacher told her students to “rest” in that posture. I thought it had to be a cruel joke.
Spending a minute in down-dog is about as relaxing as climbing a rope that’s on fire.
Half of the people who read this will agree with me. The other half will think, “What is this guy complaining about? Down Dog is so easy!” We all experience each yoga pose differently. In reality, labels like “beginner” and “advanced” aren’t that useful. What’s easy for you might be hard for another person and vice versa.
Calling yourself a “loser” won’t help you master a pose any faster.
I know, because I have tried that, too. Be patient with yourself and your unique rate of progress. Don’t compare yourself to the bendy person next to you. She wasn’t born that way! She’s only bendy, because she has practiced for more hours than you can comprehend right now.
People get hurt when they push themselves too hard. You could be triggered by jealousy (“Ugh, she’s deeper into the stretch than me!”) or an egotistical thought (“You should be better at this by now!”). None of these thoughts are helpful.
Please be gentle with yourself. As long as you get 1% better every time you try a yoga pose, consider it a win.
Learn Alignment From Different Sources
A lot of yoga teachers are afraid to point out mistakes, because they want you to feel comfortable in class. I recommend learning about proper alignment from several different sources: blogs, books, videos, illustrations, and so on.
Invite the meanest person you know over to your house. Demonstrate the pose and ask them to provide feedback. Don’t be mad when they burst your bubble.
Have you ever found out you were doing a pose incorrectly weeks, months, or years after the fact? If so, please tell me about it in the comments. It would be nice to know I’m not the only one!