I watched a yoga promo video today it was powerful and inspiring stuff: Beautiful, strong people doing beautiful and strong postures.
There were full splits, and big backbends and intense twists—all done with a smile and a sense of play.
The video billed it as accessible yoga for Western people coming to yoga later in life.
I watched it and I felt envy, frustration and anger. Yeah I know—I practice yoga, I’m not meant to feel those kind of emotions, or at least I’m meant to witness them and let them go and come back to a place of peace and equanimity.
That’s bullshit though—you know it and I know it.
Part of being human is feeling things deeply.
And lately I’ve been learning to take these strong feelings that arise during the day and go fully into them. Forget just witnessing the, or rising above, or denying or avoiding or repressing. I want to feel, and I want to feel it all.
I still retain a sense of centredness or witnessing of my experience, but I allow myself to fully immerse into the emotions and see what gifts they might hold for me.
Today, I watched this video an hour or so before I was due to head out to my Mysore-Ashtanga practice with Peter Sanson, an awesome teacher.
I’ve only been doing Ashtanga for about three months, and already, under Peter’s guidance, I’ve seen huge gains. Prior to this, I’ve had nearly 15 years of yoga experience—and some kind of home yoga practice for the last decade.
That’s a lot of yoga, although my practice has often included meditation, pranayama, chanting and Kundalini kriyas. It hasn’t always been a consistent day in and day out intense asana practice.
However, that said, I watched this video of yoga teachers I know are about my age, and with the same years of practice under their belts doing these awesome postures and I think:
Why the fuck can’t I do any of that yet?
What the fuck is wrong with me?
Goddamnit, I’m so sick of being tight and inflexible and hamstrung by my body!
Other yogis seem to effortlessly melt into poses after a decade of practice!
Yes—I know nothing is wrong with me. I‘m just me. And I know I came to yoga seriously disadvantaged, with a fused spine and an incredibly tight body. Plus I was in chronic pain. I know how far I’ve come, and how amazing my backbends are considering all of this; I can get into Wheel pose now with some ease.
Yet, ironically, now that these big poses are within striking distance of my mobility range, I’m starting to champ at the bit, I’m getting antsy and anxious and pissed off. I want to be there already, because for the first time in my life, I’m beginning to feel like there is possible.
And it’s all thanks to my current teacher, Peter Sanson. See, in all my years of practicing yoga and being a dedicated yoga practitioner, I’ve never had a teacher. I never found someone who was at the level I wanted to learn from. Oh, I’ve gone to classes with good teacher who I learned many things from. But I wanted a teacher who could really see.
Peter was that teacher.
I walked into Peter’s class, and he saw straight away what was going on with my spine, and how it was mostly held tension—literally all in my mind. He didn’t see me as tight, or inflexible, or broken because of my spine. He just shook his head and told me straight up:
Stop fighting with the poses! Stop wrenching your body round! Stop holding so much tension! Where’s all that tension coming from? You don’t need that! Let it go!
So I moved across the country to study with him and started showing up in his classes two or three times a week.
I’m getting into poses I’ve only ever dreamed of and it’s all because he keeps calling me on it when I add tension to my postures. Because that’s what I’ve been doing; I’ve spent a decade of practicing, mostly by myself, adding unnecessary tension while trying to stretch and open out.
Talk about fighting yourself and the yoga!
It’s no wonder I’ve got over a decade of practice under my belt and still can’t do the split, or fancy backbends, or crazy arm balance twists.
Today, I let myself fully feel the anger and frustration and envy of me being where I am… and the desire to be somewhere I’m not. I felt into that energy and let it carry me all the way into my Mysore-style Astanga class where I channelled it into my breath and my focus and my presence on the mat.
Once there, I didn’t give a sh*t about the practice of the other people in the room…not the super bendy strong Ashtangis who might only have been coming for five years but still blow me out of the water and not those awesome strong people in the video.
All I cared about was showing up for my practice, and I used that energy of envy, frustration and anger to carry me through.
I may never be able to do many of the postures in this video. I may always feel envy, frustration and anger when I watch it—but I doubt it. I know my relationship to the postures and to my own body will continue to shift and change as my practice continues to mature and I mature.
I’m 38 now. I figure I only have a window of about ten years to continue to lengthen and deepen my practice before I start to dial it back in honour of my ageing body. Or not…who knows, maybe all this mental tension I carry around and add to my practice will mysteriously melt as I hit my ’40s and my physical practice will blossom in ways I could never imagined.
That’s the glory of life. You don’t know what’s around the corner. All you can do is keep showing up for whatever it is.
Those emotions from today, they were fleeting.
They may come up again. They may not. Immersing myself fully in them allowed me to use their energy without reacting to it or getting lost in it. I see that part of myself too. I get jealous, I get envious. I want what I haven’t got. I get angry and frustrated and pissed off that I’m not better at yoga—especially because I teach yoga. But that’s another story…
This is just me, being me, and being ok with being me – emotions and all. And the video? It’s awesome… I love it.
See what you feel and think when you watch it.
Power Living Australia Yoga Promo Video:
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Jenna Penielle Lyons