Taking yoga off the mat

Recently, I have found myself struggling to live my yoga. Yes, I have practiced the asana (postural) aspect of yoga for the past 15 years, maybe longer if you include my training as a dancer. However, its only recently that I have attempted to take the teachings and lessons gained from my self-practice, self-study, and continued education off the mat. And boy, let me tell you, the task is much harder than I had expected.download

My inner struggles mostly come within the realm of my interpersonal relationships. Within these contexts, all forms of judgment, self-criticism, and egoism show up in ways that for me are relatively inconceivable on the mat. And yet, off the mat, in the world working with other people – and their stories, their egos, their traumas, their strengths, their weakness, and their joys – my own stuff that is rarely triggered on the mat becomes triggered at full force.

In such instances, I can’t hide behind the adage that other people are working to their best abilities, doing the best they can to honor and care for themselves. Off the mat, everything feels personal. Off the mat, my ego, triggers, hurts, pains, sorrows, and joys – my “stuff” – come into direct contact with the “stuff” of another. And unfortunately, for the perfectionist within me, I am not always sure how to respond. Nor am I always able to respond in a manner that I aspire. In these moments, I am not always capable of expressing genuine compassion for myself, let alone another.

While this may be something I may need to work on for a while, as I continue to cultivate a sense of humility and self-compassion, it has sparked the following questions that I wanted to share with  you as contemplation points:

    • Where in your own life do you sometimes struggle to walk your talk?
    • How do you respond when another is unable to meet your expectations or you are unable to meet theirs?
    • And then of course, what do you tell yourself in such moments about you, them, or the situation at hand?

In such moments, whenever I find myself at my edge, I like to repeat the following mantra borrowed lovingly from Judith Lasater and offer it to you in hopes that you will find it useful:

“I am attempting something difficult, and I appreciate myself for trying it.” (Lasater, P. 28).