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April 11, 2011

Stop Being A Good Yogi. ~ Anne Falkowski

Photo: Swami Gaurangapada

or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love My Groove

Recently I lost my groove. I got caught up in trying to be really “good.” (Warning: “good” is sometimes a secret codeword for “perfect.”)

I wanted to be a really “good“ mother, wife, yogi, friend, studio owner, boss, homemaker, and so on. In my attempt to be “good,” I had to scramble to rid myself of the “bad” as fast as possible. As I looked at my own life, bad seemed to be everywhere.  I felt like I must clean up the bad. React immediately. Shoot from the hip. Aim for the good and only the good. Let me just say that I woke up one morning (just barely) and realized I had managed to exhaust myself and alienate myself temporarily from those that I love.

Photo: BrittneyBush

Pow! I had been hit by my own poison arrow. A deadly tip filled with perfectionism. I had been on that relentless track of holding myself up to demanding and unrealistic standards. Again and again I have to relearn the same lesson; to let go of being good or bad. Seeing life through a “good” or “bad” lens is always judgment. A way to keep me separate from others: “what would others think if they knew the real me?” Being “good” cuts me off from the flow of life. Always seeking the “good” and stamping out the “bad” cloaks truth and cuts joy.

What I have learned from my work on the yoga mat is to be open, yet also protect myself by not letting the good and the bad get too much attention.

This is a powerful lesson to me because it acknowledges that the good and bad are ever present and also equally unimportant. That’s right: unimportant. It is easy to stay on task and practice compassion and equanimity when things are good. It is easy to go to your mat when things are going your way, to wake up every day and stretch those tired limbs, explore a cranky body and breathe into sleepy lungs when happiness and goodness abound. When things are good, they are good.

But what about when bad things happen? You got sick or injured, didn’t get enough sleep, screamed at your kids, had a fight with your partner, fell behind at work, and your dog has peed in your closet? These are small things. When we seek goodness or perfectionism to be happy, even the small things will turn us upside down. The inevitable big things will topple us off of high buildings.

So as I go to my yoga mat, I do not ask myself, “How can I be good? How can I be the best yogi?” but instead ask, “How can I stay open?”

I do not ask, “How can I have the best wheel pose?” but instead ask, “How can I be open to what is really happening as I practice and attune to each breath and sensation? How can I cultivate an openness of body, mind, spirit, and heart?” And that, it seems, is all I needed to find my groove again.

Invite in openness and let go of the rest.

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Anne Falkowski is a yogini, yoga studio owner, and freelance writer. She has completed 200-hour trainings with Kripalu, Ana Forrest, and Damon Honeycutt and a 500 hour certificate from Pranakria (Yogan and Michael Carroll). Anne founded Samadhi Yoga Studio in 2001 and co-teaches a 200-hour Samadhi Yoga Teacher Training with the best yogi she knows, her partner of 22 years, Matthew Falkowski. Anne is homeschooling (unschooler) momma to Emily (14), Sparky (12) and Sadie Jai (4).

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