Taking yoga off the mat

I have found myself struggling to live my yoga.

Yes, I have practiced asana (i.e. the postural) aspects of yoga for the past 15 years – maybe longer if you include my training as a dancer. Yes, my capacities in this arena have improved. There were things that I wasn’t able to do initially that, with time, became more accessible. And yes, in general my physical health and wellbeing have remained on the uptick as compared to those I know who do not practice asana. 

However, on a deeper level – on a level where there is true transformation in mydownload every day, off the mat, lived experiences – I feel that I am struggling a bit.  Most notably, I feel I am struggling within the realm of interpersonal relationships.

Within these contexts, all forms of judgment, self-criticism, jealousy, and egoism show up in ways that for me are relatively inconceivable on the mat. Off the mat, in the world with other people – and their stories, their egos, their traumas, their strengths, their weakness, their joys, and their sorrows – my own stuff comes to the surface at full force.

It is odd to me that while on the mat, very little that another does feels personal or really even warrants much of my attention.  Yet off the mat, it feels like everything that another person does is personal and deserving of all of my attention.

What I find surprising is that, while I may attempt to remind myself that “other people are working to their best abilities, doing the best they can to honor and care for themselves in any given moment” – an adage that I, and perhaps countless other teachers, have offered at various points in time.  It often seems like I can’t fully believe (or even hear) this teaching because all “my stuff” – i.e. my triggers, hurts, pains, and stories – have come into messy contact with another person’s “stuff.” 

And unfortunately, for the perfectionist within me, it is rare that in such instances the best of either of us comes to the surface. (It probably doesn’t help that when I react in ways that are less than ideal, I often engage in self – criticism, which of course inherently limits my ability to experience genuine compassion for myself, let alone another.  

As I can imagine I am not the only person who has such moments, I wanted to share the following questions with you as possible contemplation points: 

    • Where in your own life do you struggle to walk your talk?
    • How do you respond when a given relationship, situation, or event is unable to meet your expectations? How do you respond when you are unable to meet the expectations of a given relationship, situation, or event? 
    • And then of course, in such instances, what stories do you tell yourself  about you, them, or the situation at hand?

While I may continue to work on this for a while, I have found that it is helpful to repeat the following mantra that I learned from Judith Hanson Lasater. I lovingly pass it along  in hopes that you will find it useful: “I am attempting something difficult, and I appreciate myself for trying it.” (Lasater, P. 28).