Dealing With Pride & Fear in Our Yoga Practice.

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kassandra 1

This past year I’ve made my yoga practice a priority.

I did the work and found my way on my mat almost daily. I anticipated that this routine would make me stronger and calmer, which it did.

However, I also experienced some unforeseen consequences.

After a few months of regular practice I found myself feeling extremely bad both during and after yoga.

The more I practiced, the more I started becoming aware of different behaviors, patterns and attitudes I carried with me that were poisoning my experience. I noticed that I spent most of my time wrestling between pride and fear back and forth like a psychotic ping-pong match. My awareness would be muddied by my hurtful attitudes as my inner voice creeped into a pose to whisper to me that I wasn’t trying hard enough or that I should give up and quit before humiliating myself further.

On a good day, pride meant that I felt ecstatic when I got through a challenging sequence or finally felt progress in a pose. I was on top of the world! On a bad day, however, pride was telling me that I wasn’t pushing hard enough. It told me that the more advanced variation of the pose was the only one worth doing and that I shouldn’t accept anything less than perfect.

On a good day, fear meant that I got to pat myself on the back for being humble when abstaining from trying a new or challenging pose. I got to convince myself that I was practicing Ahimsa and listening to my body when really, I was just too scared to try something and risk failing. I simply could not imagine anything worse than failing. This irrational and crippling fear of failure was made worse by self-criticism and comparison. On a really bad day, fear meant that I didn’t practice at all. What if my practice today wasn’t as good as it was yesterday?

Pride and fear, pride and fear. In the end it’s the same message: how I am right now is not good enough.

I’ve often heard teachers say that the mat was a direct reflection of how we live our lives. As I started going deeper within myself and recognizing these two behaviors as they surfaced, I started to wonder how many other areas of my life I was sabotaging. How could I not see it before? Why did I adopt these behaviors in the first place? I suddenly felt a great deal of shame at the thought of how I had been thinking and acting.

Since that uncomfortable and painful realization, I’ve drastically changed how I practice and teach. My focus is now primarily on compassion and my intention is to find balance between pride and fear into the uncharted territory of acceptance. I practice Satya, truthfulness, by honoring my physical and emotional body’s state of being in the present moment, whether I like it or not.

I constantly have to catch myself either shying away from a challenge or overcompensating and boasting.

I’d like to think that my attitude has changed and that with time I am becoming more authentic and honest, but all I can say for sure is that I am much more loving towards myself through it all. If I do wander back into my old patterns, I recognize the behavior, take a deep breath and give myself a great big dose of compassion and humility.

If one day you also find yourself on this particular bump on the journey of yoga and self-discovery, know that you are not alone. Let us move into a space of self-love, honesty and authentic experiences, flaws and all.

 

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Author: Kassandra Reinhardt

Editor: Renee Picard 

Photo: by Modella Media (via the author) 

 

 

 

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anonymous Jan 6, 2015 6:55am

Hi Ciera,thank you so much for taking the time to read the article. I'm really glad you were able to relate to it. I think it's a bump in the road that a lot of people experience. Have a great day and thanks again 🙂

anonymous Jan 5, 2015 7:38pm

That bit about everything that goes on on the mat is a representation of your life is so true! Ahh Im so glad I read this because it really hit home for me . Got some soul searching to do….

    anonymous Jan 6, 2015 5:15am

    Thank you Ciera, I'm glad I'm not alone!

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Kassandra Reinhardt

Kassandra Reinhardt is a Yoga Instructor in Ottawa, Canada. She strives to help people discover the magic of creating an at home yoga practice by offering free classes on Youtube (Yoga with Kassandra) as well as in depth online courses and workshops. For more information, visit her website or find her at Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.