I’ve had some pretty ‘bad’ yoga classes that I normally bounce back from pretty swiftly. By ‘bad,’ I mean that I didn’t get as far into a pose as I felt I should, or as far as I normally do or have done before, or that I got tired much faster than was usual for me.
One class recently really didn’t go well, but this time it upset me. A lot. Some much needed reflection meant that I was able to learn and gain from what at the time was an awful experience.
How the Class Started
Within the first few minutes of the class, as the teacher explained her style of teaching and we started on some breathing and poses, I decided that I did not like her, or the style of yoga (which I had yet to really experience), or this class, or just the general situation.
I’m in a fit place (for me) at the moment and have been doing yoga almost every day at home, as well as going to class when I can.
During the class, I could do the majority of the poses. I didn’t always hold them for the whole length of time, but this was a ‘core’ class and my core is my weakest spot, so I should have been both expecting and accepting this.
During this fateful 80 minutes, negative, unhelpful thoughts kept popping into my head—more frequently than I had experienced in a long time, if at all before.
More frequent than when I used to go to a tough hot yoga class after a day of work or when I would go for a run, followed by a yoga practice. More frequent than when I hadn’t practiced for a few weeks and came back to it sticky and stiff.
I kept thinking: “Nope, my body cannot do that. This is too hard. I’m too unfit for this. I can’t inhale for 8 seconds or make that noise when I breathe. I don’t have core strength to draw on for this pose! Everyone else is so much better than I am! You want me to balance on my arms NOW?!”
“I’m exhausted...I can’t do this...”
The Eureka Moment
At the end, while in Savasana, I almost started to cry. It came out of nowhere, that I was suddenly just incredibly worked up and upset. I was struggling to get my tears under control when I finally realised why I’d had such a “bad” class, why I was having such an intense reaction.
I had been fighting with myself for the entire class.
And what really hit me, while in a very vulnerable emotional state, lying on my mat in semi-darkness, trying not to cry in front of my yoga teacher, was that I do this All The Time. I’m fighting every decision I make or try to make, and every plan I come up with to get on track to realising my goals.
Every time I want to read a book or watch TV, I torment myself because I should be doing online classes or applying for jobs or exercising or that there are so many other things that I should be prioritizing and doing instead.
I made that class incredibly difficult because I fought myself the whole way through—my mind was everywhere but on the practice. My daily life and thoughts are taking the same blows, the same self-made obstacles, the same hits to my confidence.
Realising this is one step. Changing it is a whole other ball game (or yoga practice!).
Applying My Insight
All of my yoga teachers have instilled in me that what I practice on my mat, I take into the rest of my life. And I need to practice not fighting myself and accepting where I am.
I went back to that same yoga class and instructor a few days later, walked in knowing what to expect, and accepting that this was going to be difficult class.
And guess what? I rocked it. Different day, different mood, different awareness...all of it equalled a completely different practice. Next step is taking this enlightenment off my mat, and holding on to it every day.
by Jessica Meaney - Jessica completed a masters in psychology then decided that all along, she really wanted to be a writer. While working on this and other life goals, she is practicing yoga daily, training for a half marathon and hoping to start her teacher training soon. She lives in Ireland and spends her spare time reading, cooking and writing. Connect with her on Twitter.
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