Yoga Teachers are Human Too

I was driving home from work the other day and started to take note of the obvious increase in traffic around town: out of state cars stopping when there is NO stop sign to be found, people crossing the street wherever-they-please, and let's not forget to mention the slew of new-to-town college kids on tandem bikes riding down Third St's new bike lane...in the wrong direction.

Then I got home from work and tripped over the shop vac that's been living in my kitchen since our move that I swear moves all by itself and is intentionally always right in front of me. Then I found a spot of the stain that we used for our wooden kitchen table on the door of our brand new stainless (irony?) steel refrigerator. 

And so, it goes. Frustration, irritability, feelings of exhaustion and defeat, negative inner chatter, and snappy outer chatter overcome me like they do you. And, like you, I'm not always able to tap into that zenned out post-yoga bliss state of mind (hopefully that isn't too surprising to you...) I'm not always able to hold back from rolling my eyes at innocent strangers, being short with my loved ones, or throwing blame around. 

My yoga practice is my constant: it grounds me, keeps me focused, and helps shift my perspective when I need it most. 

5 REMINDERS FROM THE MAT...

  1. Surrender control. Perhaps one of the most important 'off the mat' yoga lessons. What do we really have control over? Certainly not the 'out of state'-ers stopping to catch a view of the Ore Dock. When we take on the role of observer, we can start to detach from the stress and assume less responsibility for the behaviors + actions of others.
  2. Feel all the feelings. Some feelings are exhilarating, others...not so much. In class, I'll often encourage folks to be okay with whatever feelings come up in a pose. Part of this ongoing practice of emotional awareness is simply acknowledging what's going on. This is mindfulness at work. Noticing our feelings from a place of acceptance helps us respond vs react...otherwise known as, choosing to take a deep breath instead of rolling your eyes at strangers.
  3. Be vulnerable. I feel like, by now, leading a yoga class should be second nature - but let me tell you a secret...a lot of the time, I'm scared shitless. It's not because I don't know what I'm doing, it's because when I'm at the front of the room, I'm putting myself in a place where I'm exposed and vulnerable. The shame shadow lurks as I put myself in a place where I could publicly fail. The other secret? Sometimes I do. People will come back or they won't, but the times where I shine and overcome the shame shadow, I'm allowing myself to connect with other yogis. This connection inspires others to be vulnerable, to be seen, and to show up to themselves. Vulnerability is always worth it.
  4. Permission to be human. Human beings are fascinating. The ups and downs of life are inevitable, it's how we respond to the circumstances we're surrounded by that define us. Sometimes things will go as planned, and sometimes they won't. Sometimes the pose (a.k.a., life) is intense. In yoga, we practice focusing our breath and setting an intention moment-to-moment. We have the opportunity to give ourselves permission to practice being human, both on and off the mat, over and over again. What a relief.