March 25, 2018

Releasing Your Ego—Lessons from Yoga & The Art of Surfing.

When was the last time you let something scare you?

It’s an honest question that sites like Tumblr often throw our way.

But let’s get real. When was the last time you actually tried something new even though you knew you’d look like an idiot in doing so? For most, the answer is longer than you’d like to admit.

We are fine doing things that scare us a little, but we are not fine doing things that might make us look dumb—because that is what we are truly afraid of.

Looking silly is today’s most popular fear when a world of technology is at your fingertips, which can either prove that everyone else is flawless in these endeavors, or record your slip-up and make it go viral. We get it: that’s your ego speaking.

Comfort zones and ego go hand in hand. Your insecurities create your ego, which then puts you into a box called your comfort zone.

For me, surfing is a perfect example of this. I’ve lived in Hawaii for years and couldn’t surf well until now. When I first moved here, I watched some YouTube videos and bought a cheap longboard off Craigslist. YouTube was a good resource, but sometimes you just have to surrender and let people teach you. Human connection and guidance can offer things that the internet just can’t.

But still, I refused to take lessons from an actual person for two reasons:

1. I consider myself independent and resourceful. Hiring a lesson would be a cop-out because of these qualities. This was my ego talking.

2. Insecurities. This was the place where the ego was born.

My biggest problem was that I didn’t want a surf instructor to see me fall when they appeared so effortlessly good, as if they didn’t originally fall the exact same way. I had insecurities because I didn’t know how to surf and, in addition, I had too high of expectations for myself.

The reality is that no one is born on a surfboard, and sometimes hard things make us look silly—and that’s okay. What is sillier is not trying and not accepting help in the first place.

I had another common “self-taught” practice that hit so close to home for me as an avid practitioner and yoga teacher: self-taught yoga. I practice yoga at home all the time. Practicing at home is like homework with schooling. It’s important for continual growth.

But I am not “self-taught.” Instagram can’t teach you yoga. It can successfully inspire your practice, and that’s a great tool to utilize. But practicing from the internet is less beneficial because you do not have a trained individual in the room offering you modifications specific to your exact body and health needs. You do not have someone who can watch you, and help adjust your body when you accidentally go too deep or position your knee slightly off proper alignment and can risk injury. And you do not have the same jaw-dropping connection you get when an entire room of people are in sync and breathing as one.

Again, home practice has been very beneficial to me, and I encourage it. Even videos on wellness apps that trained teachers offer are great. But to learn in the first place you truly need a teacher in front of your face—even for a small moment each week, or each month.

This allows a professional to know your body as well as your spirit and understand what kind of hurdles you should take on in your practice. They can successfully point you in the right direction of online videos once they evaluate your practice so that you can be safe while maximizing your practice time.

The reason they became a teacher alone is to sincerely share what they love so much with everyone and anyone who is willing to try, putting inexperience, embarrassing moments, and wipeouts aside. A teacher and student relationship should always be about trust and a shared passion. It’s that simple—even if you ultimately choose to practice mostly on your own. That’s okay.

But give the real human connection a chance first, instead of through a screen. Teachers want to teach. It is what we are here for. Our choice in life was to facilitate an experience for others. And when I clicked with this knowledge inside my own teaching and yoga practice, I quickly realized it was the same damn thing with surfing.

Teachers don’t go into the field to get laughs from watching other people “fail.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally seen someone’s bits as a yoga instructor. But that doesn’t matter because that isn’t even what I’m paying attention to. I’m reminding you of your bandhas. I’m scanning knees to avoid blow-outs. That’s my job. The gritty stuff is what comes with it. I was the one who signed up to get farted on, because I don’t care!

I just want to help you love what I love because it makes people feel good. That’s it. No funny business. Occupational hazards are something that we teachers do not mind at all.

Because I decided to apply my own view of teaching yoga to my ego and comfort zones regarding surfing, I realized that teaching was a beautiful thing void of judgment. It was the art of sharing a skill you have cultivated with others out of sincerity and passion.

“Self-taught” is something I have a love/ hate relationship with. I am a “do it yourself” person as I’ve explained above. I hate to admit I need help and I try to be independent. However, I have learned that I can appreciate letting myself be taught as well as teaching myself. The truth behind any experience is that no one can know it all. And we are better for it when we humble ourselves and allow someone else to share their unique gift via guidance.

I’m going back to the story of surfing and surrendering my ego to the ocean and my teacher.

For several weeks I battled waves on my sh*tty board without a clue before giving up and deciding that surfing wasn’t for me. My ego got me there. My ego that stemmed from my insecurities kept me from stepping out of my comfort zone and letting someone who actually knew what they were doing help me.

I was the only one stopping myself from succeeding.

So I said, “F*ck it!” to my insecurities and decided to give something new and challenging a try because I wanted to have fun. And guess what? I did.

I allowed someone else to teach me the art of surfing, and I didn’t catch a god damned single wave until I did.

Now, it is something I can enjoy without my ego getting in the way. The ocean humbles you like that. You can’t come to the ocean with an agenda because that is when you will get rocked. Show up ready for a lesson, then you will ride.

Allowing yourself to be taught is a beautiful thing because it is the best way to surrender your ego. Allowing someone to teach you is your heart saying, “Okay. I don’t know everything and I would like help in getting there to my end goal. I trust myself and I trust this teacher and I am giving up my insecurities to learn.”

Learning is such an important part of our lives. We should never stop learning.

Your ego is not your amigo. Give it up to get out of your comfort zone and start learning again. No more egos, no more comfort zones. Graciously allow the teachers of this world to project their hearts upon you. It is one of the most special gifts that they can give. How wonderful is that? You can be the one to help them give that.

I believe that ego creates your comfort zone, and the insecurities your ego gave birth to keep you from stepping out of it.

Level your insecurities, release your expectations, and don’t overthink yourself into a box. Accept a little help and catch that wave.


15 Cool Things Yoga has Taught Me. (Hint: None of them are Handstand.)

Author: Brooklynn Bosworth
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Angel Lebailly
Copy & Social Editor: Sara Kärpänen


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