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December 20, 2016

A Yoga Teacher Eats her Words—Lessons on Balance & Distraction.

I struggle with it, even as a yoga teacher.

For me, the middle ground is so boring.

I want intensity. I want passion. I want bold.

I want perfection or nothing at all.

A few months ago I injured my wrist. I thought it was from yoga, but I didn’t remember it happening, so I didn’t think it was that serious. I figured it would go away. I rested my wrist for a few weeks while I traveled and then came back to my practice full force.

The wrist pain came back with me.

Each time I would rest it thinking it would solve itself, but every time I came back to my mat, the wrist pain followed me.

I started avoiding my yoga practice. When I did go to class, I would get so frustrated that I wanted to scream and leave.

The more it hurt, the more I avoided my yoga. I had never practiced this infrequently since I started yoga eight years ago. I began to notice differences in my mood. I was becoming more reactionary.

I panicked.

Yoga was a huge part of my life, and a spiritual practice for me. It calmed me, helped my anxiety and depression, and it was my community. What the hell was going on and what would I do now if yoga wasn’t working for me anymore?

I took it back to the mat and listened.

Then I saw it…My inner achiever, my inner perfectionist, pissed as hell to be brought down a few notches.

With this wrist pain, I couldn’t do chatarunga. I couldn’t hold a plank, a side plank, or do an arm balance. When I tried to practice and avoid those poses all I wanted to do was plop down into child’s pose or savasana, to rest, or just leave.

The inner perfectionist was an old and familiar shadow that I wasn’t surprised to see resurface, but there was something else at hand—it was the momentum. The middle ground of a slower practice with less flow and movement was boring the crap out of me. I was searching for the momentum of the power flow to keep me going. Otherwise I could barely muster the strength to hold a pose.

How ironic. As a yoga teacher I had told my students so many times “yoga is not about the perfect pose” and “to find the balance between the effort and the ease.” Yet there I was, eating those yoga teacher words.

It wasn’t long before I noticed this same need for momentum with my all or nothing attitude when I left my corporate job.

Without the momentum of an overly busy schedule, I found myself not doing much at all. The laundry was done much less, the dishes sat in the sink. I somehow couldn’t find the time or the energy to open my mail or do the things I was doing when I taught three yoga classes a week and worked a full time job.

When I noticed the pattern, I had another realization: the attachment to the distraction. The attachment to being busy. It was what was keeping me going. Without it, I collapsed.

In yoga I would collapse into child’s pose to rest and count down to savasana when my injury wouldn’t let me do my normal power practice. Again, once I slowed down, I completely stopped.

Those yoga teacher words again echoed in my head “who you are on the mat, is who you are off the mat as well.”

Ugh, shut up! I screamed to myself. But dang it, I know you’re right.

I’m still healing my wrist and working daily to walk that middle road on the mat and in life.

I still want to scream each time I can’t bang out that power flow, but I remind myself of my own words, that it’s not about the pose. It’s about the breath. It’s about the mind. It’s about finding balance. It’s about the journey and the lessons we learn about ourselves on the mat, that they are a reflection to what we are learning in our lives as well.

 

 

~

Author: Adrienne Dygert 

Image: Author’s Own

Apprentice Editor: Nicolette Beale; Editor: Caitlin Oriel

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Adrienne Dygert