The Hardest Thing Yoga Taught Me…

… is to Be Where I Am (and that it’s really okay).

I came across this article a while back, and some, if not all, of the points resonated with me. Because one of the most striking things I’ve realised during YTT is how little compassion I have for myself.

Little wonder why, of all the yoga philosophy we’ve learned during these 2.5 months, Ahimsa (the practice of non-violence) – one of the Five Yamas of Patanjali’s Eight-fold path of Yoga – struck a chord with me the most.

It’s not just about abstaining from physical violence – that’s the easy part! Rather, it’s the metaphysical aspect of not inflicting mental and emotional violence on both yourself and others that’s a bit more difficult to practice.

But as I slowly immerse myself into my practice, the concept became slightly easier to grasp, and I found myself attempting to practice it more regularly. Here’s how:

1. AT WORK
I’ve recently started working in an extremely high-stress environment, and things like mistakes or changes to original plans, can trigger an avalanche of swear words and screaming. Basically, it can bring out the worst in you (and others).

Being the newbie, I’m usually on the receiving end of very harsh words. It’s hard to replace my first impulse of frustration and indignance with kindness or acceptance, especially when I’m made to feel like I’m useless. I admit, I do bitch to my colleagues about it, thinking it’d make me feel better.

But I’ve found that it’s much easier to take it all in, feel the extent of the hurt (to the point where it makes me want to tear sometimes), and then just… let it go.

Funny thing is, over time, it has become a little easier to react less angrily, and take things less personally. I can say, ‘Okay, he/she had a bad day. It’s not a reflection on me or my abilities. I merely made an honest mistake that got to him/ her at this point in time.’

2. ON THE PERSONAL GROWTH FRONT
I’ve been injured even before I began YTT.

At first, it was from pole dance – I’d registered for private classes with two buddies and didn’t want to stop because a) #FOMO, b) I felt bad for pushing back classes, which meant that they wouldn’t get to go too, and c) I didn’t want to totally not go and waste my money. Of course, that meant my injuries never went away, no matter how much TCM or physiotherapy I sought.

Fast-forward to YTT – I got stronger, but more serious aches and pains followed because I thought I was ready to attempt advance poses, when clearly, I’m not. Injury-stricken, I started falling out of simple poses and panicking because… What does that mean? That I’m regressing? That I’m not good enough for YTT?

Once again, I pushed myself beyond my limits because #kiasu – I paid no heed to my body’s cries for help, and I was not compassionate to myself one bit. So, that backfired – my practice did not improve, and I ended up aggravating my numerous pre-existing injuries.

Moral of the story: It is not a competition – not even with myself – because what I can do today, I may not be able to do tomorrow. I accept where I am, at this present moment, with an open and loving heart. I honour my practice and how far I’ve already come, and will always aim to teach my body, mind and soul compassion.

Namaste.

Cheryl Leong (200hr Hatha/Ashtanga Weekends – July 2015)