same question, different answer

“Everyone eventually comes to yoga seeking an answer. You may come for the body, but you stay for the mind.”

One of my yoga instructors mentioned this in a sort of off-handed way last week as we discussed his yoga practice and why he became a teacher. It’s something that’s really stuck with me.

“For a while I was teaching yoga by day and bartending by night. Ha! I’d go from detoxing a class in the afternoon to helping people intoxicate themselves a few hours later at 12 AM.”

(Something another yoga instructor at my studio said to me about her past life in Portland. And that’s stuck with me too, but mainly because I find it funny and catchy!)

I came to yoga originally for the body. I saw it as a great way to get in shape and get more “bendy”. The rush of adrenaline I experienced when I worked on and achieved a new poses was exhilarating. Finding the perfect combination of strength and flexibility gave me energy, and with that the accompanying triumph, power, and self-esteem.

But what about the poses that aren’t so dynamic? What about the rest of one’s practice, the monotonous positions we flow through to get to the exciting ones? What about positions we hold for a long time, seemingly for no purpose? That’s when the mind becomes essential. I began to realize I’ve stayed with yoga because, while it does challenge me, in the end it often asks the same ol’ thing of me. The more you learn, the more you become familiar with. And what do you do with something you must do that you’ve done before? Do we see it as stagnancy? Do we see it as stillness? Serenity? That familiarity should be given just as much weight as novelty. The mind is what we rely on for the in-between, the day-to-day. We don’t realize that life is mostly made up of these small, perpetual motions that are easy to overlook. We can wish them away, or grow bored, or tired, or frustrated. Or we can engage them.

I also realize that if you allow your mind to stay in a knot, you only end up hurting yourself. I’ve had times where:

  • I couldn’t move past the fact that I felt frustrated I couldn’t accomplish a pose, or
  • I felt annoyed that I was sweaty, or
  • I felt tired and became stressed that I was tired, or
  • I was so freakin’ bored of moving through chataranga

But it’s essential that you learn to move on. You acknowledge the feeling, you “give it a chair” so to speak, and you move past it. It stays put. I’m slowly beginning to learn that I can control those emotions. I can recognize them, I can nod to them, but I don’t have to invite them into my very being. My emotions come from me but they are not necessarily me if I don’t want them to be. I experience them, but I can direct them, too. (Cue the part where I talk about sending energy and vibrations out into the universe…well…maybe not today…)

What do you stay for in your life? What is it you truly enjoy about the things you do?


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