This Yoga Video Made Me Feel Envious, Frustrated & Angry. {Video}

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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:

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About Kara-Leah Grant

Kara-Leah Grant is an internationally renowned retreat leader, yoga teacher and writer. She pours her love into growing a world-wide tribe of courageous, committed, and empowered individuals through leading retreats in New Zealand, Mexico, and Bali. Kara-Leah is also the founder of New Zealand’s own awesome yoga website, The Yoga Lunchbox, and author of Forty Days of Yoga—Breaking down the barriers to a home yoga practice and The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga. A born & bred Kiwi who spent her twenties wandering the world and living large, Kara-Leah has spent time in Canada, the USA, France, England, Mexico, and a handful of other luscious locations. She now lives and travels internationally with her son, a ninja-in-training. You can find Kara-Leah on her website, or on Facebook.


11 Responses to “This Yoga Video Made Me Feel Envious, Frustrated & Angry. {Video}”

  1. Jay says:

    It's all a matter of perspective. This 57 year old yogi is beginning his 3rd month of Ashtanga Mysore and "I figure I only have a window of about 10 years." Peace…

  2. straight up girl says:

    Welcome to the world of the Yoga Gym. Firstly, let me say upfront..the Powerliving Team are great business people! Fantastic Marketers ( the best kind being the ones who smoke and mirror you). The team there have basically taken what they have learnt and branded it their own and called it their own. Baron Baptiste teaching became Powerliving's "own style". They now call Yin….Power Yin ( there is nothing more powerful about their yin practice). He has written a fantastic book…however..insinuates he's invented Modern Yoga ( maybe Australians might fall for that but it's been happening in the rest of the world for ages). My favourite happens to be how they have now added "Athletica" to their name…trying to be lululemon. The leader is a brilliant orator who can weave a fantastic spell over his legion of female fans. They believe his story…which makes him an awesome marketer and a successful business man. Don't feel envious..because I guarantee that behind that facade…you'll be happy your exactly who you are. You should dig a little deeper before you accept the veneer as gospel.

    • Hey Straight Up Girl,

      Thanks for your comment. I read through a few times, taking some time to digest each sentence. I can't say for sure whether Power Living are this or that – yet that isn't the point I'm making so much. It's more about how emotions can be triggered inside us, and then what we do with those emotions. It's impossible to "not feel envious" when envy has already arisen. Yet that envy comes and goes pretty damn quick when just allowed to be.

      However you're right, we can not know what path another walks – what their challenges may be or what it is they might yearn for.

      Following my own emotions down – because under the any, frustration and anger lay feelings of failure and beliefs about love – yielded some powerful insights. In the end, it's nothing to do with the video, or the people in it – it's about me and what I see and what gives rise to that perception.

  3. yogibattle says:

    I'm sad that you put so much emotional energy into this promo. These guys are just "play"ing around. In this slickly edited commercial, you can't see the truth in their postures. I caught the man in Astravakrasana holding his breath. This isn't yoga! It's all EGO! I don't want to live in a yoga world with just strong beautiful people doing quickly edited handstands and legs behind their head. I don't want to do yoga at a studio with a mural of two people looking like they are about to get it on (see above picture). I want to live in a yoga world where there is a community that practices what has been passed down for thousands of years to those who want to move beyond their ego to ultimate freedom. Perhaps you need a computer fast for a few weeks and devote that time to your practice. Perhaps I do too!

    • Hey Yogibattle,

      You're sad, I was envious – emotions all around! And yeah, it's hard to see clearly at all when our shit is getting in the way. From what I've seen/heard of the Power Living Studios and teachers – they are very focused on community that's about moving beyond ego to ultimate freedom. However, this may not be reflected in this video.

      I interviewed Duncan Peak a month or so ago, and he impressed me. But hey – maybe he's just a smooth orator as Straight Up Girl says and I was just taken in by his spell…

  4. straight up girl says:

    Couldn't have said it better myself..or i tried! ha. yogi battle….he's a showboat….clearly has low self esteem. He calls it one of the best contemporary yoga brands today….maybe in Australia where there isn't as much yoga as overseas. He should do infomercials with Billy Blanks! He's a slick operator.

  5. Dan says:

    I had no reaction to it – struck me as consistent with marketing generally, including what we see around yoga (it’s big business). I came to yoga at 46, and I have no intention of dialing it back. I don’t know what poses will be permanently unavailable to me, but that really isn’t any of my business. I do what I can each day and leave the results up to something else. I’d recommend that each day begin your practice by saying to yourself ‘What a blessing – that I have a body that allows me to take this place on the mat.’ It is literally a gift to be able to attempt, and fail, poses. Then set your intention and dedicate that day’s practice to someone in your life who cannot do what you are about to do.

    • Hey Dan,

      That's a beautiful way to start a practice – thank you. It is such a gift to be in a human body, and to be able to move with ease. I like how you're approach takes me out of the "me, me me" frame of mind.

      Thank you.

  6. Richard says:

    Hi Kara-Leah

    You said you had "15 years of yoga experience" and yet you felt "envy, frustration and anger".
    You seem to be saying that you didn't really make progress until you found your current teacher.

    One of my teachers has a theory that we can practice for many years but all we are doing is repeating the same year over and over. I wonder if your 15 years of practice has been the equivalent of only a few years? Maybe seeing it that way would help you deal with the asana envy.

    I'm impressed that after 15 (calendar) years of practice you have made a breakthrough and can start to deal with the tension that was holding you back (well… that and a fused spine obviously). Your story has made me think of friends who are stuck and how it might still be possible for them to have big breakthroughs too.

    "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."

    It really isn't bullshit. The idea that the views we hold right now are somehow true and universally applicable is just a product of how the mind works. The fact that you felt you could project a view like this unto the reader as being absolutely true without any sort of qualification is an indication that it is a wrong view. And I think when you are willing to say the following you are already moving away from a simple absolute view:

    "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."

    You don't mention if you currently have a regular meditation practice. If you don't then maybe you should start one. Taking the progress your are making in asana practice into meditation may allow you to see how physical sensations and emotions connect.

    I apologise if any of this sounds patronising. That was not my intention. It felt that by sharing your practice in this article you were inviting comment.


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