When I start to really love something, I start to be really critical of it.
This has happened with everything that I have taken an esoteric interest in: writing, music, theatre, yoga.
All of those things are practices, and as I develop my practice in any of those disciplines, I start to notice what I like and what I don’t like. My likes are pretty simple. I like things that make sense to me and I don’t like things that don’t make sense to me.
The more I love something, like yoga, for instance—the more I begin to become disappointed by the yoga environments I find myself in because I have all of these likes and dislikes crowding my space.
I am almost alarmed at how often I encounter this thought: I already hate this class, and I have 55 minutes left of this shit.
My judgment is like a knee-jerk reaction that I need to talk myself out of again and again and again.
Sometimes I’ll do a fairly decent job of pulling myself out of that place of judgment and finding, you know, like meditative coasting waves and stuff; but other times, I will be seething in frustration and discomfort as I wait (not so) patiently for salvation: savasana (and the first step out the door).
Please understand, it is not the teacher that I hate. I sometimes feel very misaligned with the teacher—like we both practice yoga, but yoga means very different things to each of us, and for whatever reason, I’m not super onboard with their offering.
That’s still fine.
I watch people come into the classes I teach and hate them all the time, and I’ve come to know that other peoples’ reactions to my class have nothing to do with me; by proxy I realize that my judgments of other teacher’s classes are more of a reflection of me than they are of them.
I’m the one suffering through class. They are totally fine (or at least that’s my assumption of how they are doing during class).
I will sometimes think that my distaste is directly and obviously caused by the teacher or the other students or the room itself. I will sometimes think, crap, why isn’t everyone’s practice my practice? Don’t they all know how much better my practice is than this bullshit?
Now, I’m usually not the asshole who just stops moving completely and rolls her eyes in her sass-stance while everyone beasts through their sun-As, but I have to also take care of myself in those moments and create space outside of the class-flow to calm down.
This is tricky, as I have only ever made the decision to get up and leave once, and I don’t plan on doing that again.
But when I’m pissed off like that, I don’t want to just keep going—my yoga isn’t about brooding. As far as I can tell, my yoga is about accountability and kindness.
I have to stop practicing someone else’s yoga and just practice my own. And without feeling like an asshole, sometimes that means that I spend the rest of class to sit and meditate, or throw my legs up the wall and take an early rest.
I don’t care if the next yoga room I walk into has a teacher advising me to do things that I feel are unsafe; if the next song I hear on the playlist is that really catchy tune Ke$ha is singing about getting black-out drunk and comparing it to trees falling in a forest; if the door is drafty and the lighting is weird and the person next to me is a yoga-farter.
There is nothing inherently wrong with any of those things. Those things are only and exactly what I believe them to be.
And yes, the next time those things present themselves to me, I will probably think: I already hate this class, and I have 55 minutes left of this shit.
But I’m trying this whole thing of being impeccable with my word. I want my words to feel kind towards myself and towards others.
I don’t choose that thought. That thought pops up and I deal with it accordingly when it happens.
That’s okay. Yoga also teaches me that life is gradual.
This is why I will still thank every teacher I take class from and acknowledge that this is also an hour and a half that they have taken from their day to be with me. And it can be rough teaching to someone who is not grooving the jams. Sometimes I don’t know how to deal with situations where people are obviously not enjoying my class.
So I will not be unkind when I speak my words to others.
But what about speaking words to myself? Just inside my little head? How about replacing the thought: I already hate this class, and I have 55 minutes left of this shit; with this thought: I am not feeling aligned with this class but I have agreed to be here, so I will use this time as it is gifted to me to find peace where turbulence is seeded?
How about simply recognizing kindness as that which makes me feel good about myself and others, and begin to nurture that?
As alluring as it is to feel absolutely better than someone else, it does not feel good.
Sometimes I need to remind myself that my judgments might make me feel better than other people, but they do not make me feel good to be myself. To recognize that distinction is key, because it allows me to detach from my judgment.
If I need to sit down on my mat and skip the entire strength series, I will do that, because I would rather spend class engaging in inner work that is kind and attentive and relevant. I would rather confront that thought and create space to release it, rather than moving through an entire practice feeding my cells with my bullshit judgment that this class is stupid.
I hope to take your class one day and I kind of hope to hate it.
This will make you my absolute favorite teacher.
Want 15 free additional reads weekly, just our best?
Editor: Bryonie Wise