When I first started practicing yoga, I found the experience to follow an interesting trajectory—one for which I am only really beginning to understand the significance of.
I first “came to yoga” on a surfing trip in El Salvador. A friend and I found an instructor who offered us private classes that helped prepare our bodies for the long days in the water. It was enjoyable and helpful for the task at hand but that was about it.
It wasn’t until I a year later though, when I arrived in Bali that I really felt introduced to yoga. It was as if in an instant all this amazing-ness entered my life courtesy of Down Dog.
I was feeling strong and connected to some deeper version of myself. I was buzzing with a “yoga vibe” and attracting cool shit into my life—including a beautiful woman and an opportunity to stay in Bali.
I was journaling and looking people in the eye. I walked around (I might have been floating) with a calm smile and stopped to say hello to strangers and go-in for a chat about whatever. I was mainlining green juice and breathing deeply. It was as if yoga was giving me the free trial of yogic benefits saying “look what yoga can do for you!”
All was well—and then quite suddenly--it wasn’t.
I can’t pinpoint when directly, but something shifted for me. I started to feel restless. I had a hard time getting inspired to step on the mat, and I told myself sticking with a long term, deep practice wasn’t necessary for me in order to grow.
All the “ooh look at how healthy and alive I am” inner chatter began to subside.
It is only in hindsight I am able to see what was actually going on.
When we first begin practicing yoga, it usually derives from a significant turn of events in our life--as a result of us being fed up looking at ourselves in the mirror or doing things the same old way. We’re usually trying to bring a change to our lives and yoga gladly obliges.
Sure, we might just stumble into it, but even that stumble is often accompanied with a hidden, sub-conscious directive of I need to do some things differently in my life.
So we step on the mat, and yoga gets the first word, for which our response is…ahhh yeah, that feels good. Then our practice deepens and yoga rears back it’s foot and kicks us into a different dimension.
In my story, this “yogic kick” hit me right in the “I’m better than this” story I tell myself when things often get tough.
That dialogue, the “I don’t need this” conversation I was having in my head is my ego wall. This ego wall is like an inner voice whose sole purpose is to keep things status quo. The ego works hard to develop attachments and it doesn’t enjoy things like yoga and meditation that disrupt the delusion.
In order to carry us somewhere, yoga must disrupt.
We must throw all of our bullshit onto the wall so we can see the ridiculousness of it all, and then let it all go.
The reality is that yoga was doing what yoga does. It travels deep inside of us beyond our minds. It works through the parts of ourselves we deny, either explicitly or implicitly. It conjures up our personal traumas and begs us to look at them. (I use the term “trauma” to describe any unchecked emotional impacts on our nervous system).
It finds the tight hips, the immovable shoulder, and stirs up the content held within these places.
I was in denial that the thoughts going on in my head during yoga practice held any significance. I wasn’t paying attention. It didn’t occur to me that thinking about finances while struggling into pigeon pose was a demonstration of inflexibility—both in body and mind—and that the thought was connected to the pain I was feeling in my body.
It’s all fucking connected.
Yes, the f-bomb is necessary to demonstrate the magnitude of the statement. I failed to look at the pattern in my head. Change doesn’t come easy in life as the “new” always bumps up against the far more comfortable “old.” These patterns are the part of ourselves that are up for review during yoga practice.
Yoga is not just about feeling good--it’s also about being as uncomfortable as hell. The discomfort is our personal system of bullshit, put in place to keep us held right where we are, saying “hey, dude—what the fuck are you doing? Don’t change things!”
I’m sharing this in order to say: Change things! Keep going. Keep going wherever you are. We must keep going. We must push through our blockages and discover what lies beneath. I see and feel this as a necessity more and more as I watch things unfolding around me and as I tune in to happenings around the world. This isn’t the time for complacency.
It’s a time for yoga. On and off the mat.