January 28, 2014

What Teaching Yoga Has Taught Me About My Ego. ~ Suzanne Poldon

What I learned today at yoga teacher training was not how to nail a headstand.

It didn’t involve mastering a pranayama technique, nor did it deepen my appreciating for Kundalini—not yet, anyways.

I’ve been practicing yoga for nearly five years now and I would describe it as an integral and necessary part of my life. Yoga has gotten me through a nasty eating disorder, helped me persevere through an unbearable living situation, and pushed me to grow as an individual. It has also inspired me to delve into my own spirituality, and led me to become interested in self-improvement.

In approaching life at this angle, I’ve taken care to consider the greater good and the world of which I am only a small part. Though I felt fairly confident that my ego (that voice that screams “me, me, me!!”) was in check, I now suppose I was incorrect in this assessment.

My ego screamed out today in posture clinic. I was jazzed when the instructor announced we would be breaking down headstand. “I got this,” my ego asserted as I tried to remain calm, cool, and collected through the foundational poses (not getting too ahead of myself). My heart picked up it’s pace as we moved our legs closer to our faces and engaged our cores, getting ready to extend fully into the posture.

“Alright,” the instructor said, “Now bring your knees to your chest and hover in Teddy Bear pose.”

I couldn’t do it and apparently I have been doing the posture wrong the entire time. I came out of the pose defeated and slightly stunned: “Teddy Bear pose? Psh,” my ego scoffed, in attempt to dissolve the dissonance I felt. Yet, for the remainder of the day I couldn’t get it out of my head.

In the afternoon we moved into exploring proper cueing. I glued together some of the remaining shards of my confidence and tried to put my nervousness aside. Then I was told to instruct another student into downward dog, and this is what I said: (nothing).

The blank stare that glazed my face and the words that wouldn’t come out angered my ego yet again. I wanted to run away and never come back.

What was I doing here? Clearly I’m not cut out to be an instructor!

Thankfully another student sensed the internal war that my ego was initiating in my head, and reminded me that we all suck at this.

As blunt as it was, it helped.

Having officially completed one week of my first yoga teacher training, I can say that I have learned a lot but not on the topics I had expected to. The most valuable lesson conveyed to me is that we are all human, and humans are crazy, wonderful and egotistical beings.

I look forward to the next unlikely-lesson with great anticipation.

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Assistant Editor: Kathryn Ashworth/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: elephant media library

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Suzanne Poldon