My fingers hesitate over the screen of my phone as I debate which yoga class to take this morning.
I really want the 75-minute class length today, and I know the teacher well—but for some reason, I can’t decide.
I do what I always do: trust the universe will lead me to the more needed option of the two.
I pull into the studio with the same uncertainty, but now it’s crunch time. I have 10 minutes. I know I can spend them in my car unnecessarily debating which door to enter, but I feel an internal pressure to just choose.
I feel no pull. I have no inkling of which practice I am meant for today. I feel lost, utterly embodying the mess of my practice thus far in my black leggings and tank—a yogi black sheep unsure where she fits in this moment.
My sense of confusion, of loss, it’s fitting. After all, this is intended to be a serious practice for me. I have work to do.
Suffice to say, the past year submerged me in my deepest, darkest roots; my inner savage fled. She huddles, her back against cold stone, and today I intend to offer her a hand. But I can’t even choose a room in which to place my mat.
As I sit here and reflect hours later, I realize my error. I knew what I wanted from practice this morning, and, amidst the confusion of choices and desires, I shut out the most innate guiding force in my life: my inner voice.
Many of us come to our mats with an idea of how we would like the practice to unfold and where we think we must do our work today.
We let our wants cloud our true needs.
The word “want” has two basic meanings. The first is a desire for something, a craving, a pull, a wish; this is a comfortable, positive definition. However, the second correlates “want” with a deficiency or lack of something. It requires us to acknowledge our truths and our flaws. Oftentimes when we find ourselves wanting something, whether it’s a particular yoga practice, a tangible object, or something else, we see this want as a positive. The desire is a step toward a goal we feel we should accomplish.
But what if we were to weigh our wants in terms of what we are lacking that is causing us to crave? If we look deeply, we may upsettingly find that our wants do not align with our needs; they do not provide us with the solution we think they will because, in fact, they are symptoms of a deficiency.
Yogi and non-yogi alike, we all have wants. We want the things we want because we think they will bring us happiness, when in reality the basis for most of our desires comes from measuring ourselves up against those around us. We crave the things we do because we feel they will help define us in the terms of our society. Having certain things equates to being a certain type of person.
Oftentimes, we place our wants well ahead of needs on our spiritual to-do list. The ego thinks it knows what’s best for us, and we blindly let it take the reins, pushing aside our needs for the day, needs we don’t even know exist. We become so enmeshed in our desires we don’t think to listen to our inner guide; we ignore our most primal and basic needs in favor of tameable, gaudy wants.
Instead, we must take a step back.
Allow for silence in the soul.
Press your ear against the walls of your heart and listen.
Your savage will speak to you; I promise.
And when it does, that pull you feel? That is where your work lies today.