I'm seven weeks into yoga teacher training and I'm finding less and less to time make it to classes at the yoga studio. We are busy right now - the girls are in ballet and soccer, the teacher training takes up a lot of time, Donovan is working with a personal trainer a few times a week. Admittedly, I've been stressing a bit. I want to do more but I'm finding it nearly impossible to make it class on a regular basis.
To alleviate that feeling of not doing enough, I've been paying a lot of attention to how I can practice yoga without going to a class. Because yoga isn't just what happens in a studio. Maybe I do a few Sun Salutations when I wake up in the morning and do some hip openers while I'm watching T.V. at night. Maybe I take the time to do an online video when the girls are home with me. Maybe I do some neck rolls and focus on lengthening my spine when I'm sitting at the table.
Here's the other thing, though. Yoga is not just postures. It's breath work, meditation, lifestyle choices (like I wrote about when I talked about ahimsa a few weeks ago), relationship choices. It's cleanliness, gratitude, kindness, acceptance. It's a study. It's life.
Tonight I mentored in a new class and it was the first time I taught a standing pose (pyramid). I could go on and on about my portion of the class and how it went. I'm really good at noticing what I do wrong. I got really good feedback from the teacher afterward. Good constructive criticism. I agreed with everything she said and hearing it will make me a better teacher. Stuff like be confident, walk around the room, have more energy in your voice since you're teaching a more energetic portion of the class. Good stuff.
Isn't funny how our brain can hear something that is incredibly helpful and then let it turn into something harmful?
As soon as I got in the car, I started running through my portion of class again. Over and over. Thinking about the things I wished I had done differently, starting to feel embarrassed that I didn't rock it, criticizing myself. (I'm really good at criticizing myself. This is why I think I need to invest in some yoga therapy).
And yet as my mind started to spin, I caught myself from letting it spin too far. I started to ask questions like, "Is this thinking kind? Is it necessary? Is it even true?" No, no and no.
So right then and there, I decided to start a focusing on ahimsa again. A new practice. The practice of noticing my thoughts and noticing whether they were kind, true, and necessary.
The teacher ended class having students repeat a mantra based on the intention they set at the beginning of class and I decided to do the same. I set an intention and turned it into a mantra that I repeated a half dozen times before I got home. This is a new tool for me. (It was something like "I am learning and I am grateful). And I know this will sound a bit woo-woo but it totally worked.
I felt my energy shift. Instead of feeling down, I felt excited, confident. I sat up straighter. I came in and shared what happened with Donovan and the girls. I spoke with confidence and energy. Gracie told me, "Mom, you don't need to be perfect. You just need to work hard and have fun and be who you are." I'm kind of paraphrasing but those are pretty wise words from a five year old, don't you think? (She also said things like, "maybe the teacher called on you because she knew you'd do a good job and you have lots of books on yoga and a mat" and "being a helper in class is super special.")
I decided to let go of my ego, to let go of the idea of perfection, and to work on accepting myself. It's so exhausting to be so self-critical all the time.
Observe an old habit or pattern that isn't working for you (thinking negative thoughts), come up with a new pattern (replacing those thoughts with positive, kind, and truthful thoughts), and then studying this habit and making adjustments as needed. That's yoga, baby.
Kind of life changing.