My new mantra

“Show Up and Breathe.”

This needs to be my new mantra for life.

Being sick during Ana’s intensives brought me new insight into my practice. I got myself there in the wee hours by telling myself that all I needed to do was “show up and breathe“. That took the pressure off myself to have any requirements of what I had to do.

Because I can do a lot of advanced poses, I can easily fall into thinking that I have to do advanced poses/intense practice every time I practice. Otherwise I won’t be able to keep doing advanced poses and I’ll become someone who just lazes on the mat. What I found was the opposite. Driving myself just makes me mentally (and often physically) tired. It doesn’t actually get me further into the practice and certainly not in the deeper sense of being connected to my spirit. I actually found while being sick it just brought a softness to my practice where I often wanted to go deeper into a pose because it felt good, not because I had expectations that I needed to.

It’s made me aware of a similar racket that I do with other aspects of my life: “If I don’t pull on the reins and drive myself harder, I’ll be out of control and just become an unaccomplished, lazy, flaky person”. But driving and beating myself up does not actually seem to push me towards the person I want to be; it just wears on me.

So I’m taking up this new mantra and catching myself when I find myself in whipping mode. I haven’t convinced myself yet that doing so won’t make a lethargic slacker but I’m willing to experiment to see if my results on the mat just might hold true off the mat.

Sometimes as a teacher you’ll recognize when a student has similar tendencies that you do. I had a student the other night in class who was clearly the most advanced in the class. While his outward form was quite precise, you could see him pushing in the pose. At first I found myself drawn away from doing any adjustments for him. I realized it was because it was hitting a little too close to home. Instead of avoiding him, I went over and just coached breathing with him and you could see his strain start to ease. It was a powerful experience for me because I realize that this type of student is someone I can help by attempting to impart the same lesson that I’m learning.

Are you a pusher? How are you finding ways to let up on yourself?

Image credit: shawnzrossi

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