Yoga’s Greatest Enemy

crazyyogaThe greatest enemy of a yoga practice isn’t anything external. It’s not a person or a movement. It’s right inside you. It’s ego. You may think “Oh, I don’t have an ego. I know I’m not good at yoga”. Sorry to tell you, but that’s ego, too. It’s your fear of failure.

Yoga ego can take one of two forms. The first is the very well-known manifestation of this little beastie. It’s the need to show off, go further, deeper, longer than everybody else in the class. Since I started yoga 11 years ago, I’ve sustained two yoga ego injuries. Once I pulled an abdominal muscle, I think right off my rib cage. All I know is that I had this little bump on my torso for a couple of months and it hurt like hell. The second was a shoulder strain that took almost 7 months to fully heal. Yeah, I know all about showing off in yoga. It used to be the reason I went to class. I’ve (mostly) conquered that demon, which is a topic for another blog.

The more insidious manifestation of the yoga ego is the fear of failure. See, in refusing to fail, we can continue to look good. Nothing ventured, nothing lost, to coin a phrase. In this case, it’s not about showing off yoga skills, it’s about making sure that you never EVER look foolish or like you don’t know what you’re doing. This beastie will have you just dabble in a pose so you don’t come anywhere near to falling down. Or even not doing yoga at all. What a waste.

Yoga is about balance. The balance between going for it and holding back. The balance between showing off and hiding. The balance between risking it all and risking absolutely nothing. And that’s not an easy balance to pull off.

Any group activity is going to inherently bring up one or both of these motivations. For many students of yoga, both of these will be in play in the same class. Show off in the poses that you’re good at and hide in the ones that you’re not. Or maybe even showing off in order to cover up the ones you’re not good at. I know that there was a time I would find that I really had to go and take a bathroom break when it was time for Camel Pose.

Look, nobody is good at everything and nobody is bad at everything. The way to conquer your inner ego is to simply allow it to be there. Yes, you want to show off in your favorite pose. Fantastic, notice that and move on. What else can you learn from this pose? Are you even doing it right or have you found some secret to looking good while not quite doing it? Yes, this particular pose makes you feel like a beached whale. Do it anyway. The worst thing that will happen is what? You “fail”? The only failure in yoga is not trying. The only success is showing up.

Categories: Insight

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