May 25, 2010

Confession of a Yoga Hypocrite. ~ Donna Freeman

I’m a hypocrite. Yes, a yoga hypocrite.

Recently my middle school-aged son was complaining after hot yoga for teens (a class he participates in and I teach).

The conversation went something like this:

Me:    It looked like you had a tough yoga class today. What’s going on?
Son:   It’s so hard to be the only guy in a group of very flexible girls.
Me:    Yeah, it’s tough being the only guy, but they’re not all super flexible.
Son:   They can do the poses so much better than I can.
Me:    It’s not about comparing yourself to everyone else in class. It’s about doing your best.
Son:    But it’s so frustrating. They go all the way into the pose and I can barely bend forward.
Me:   It’s true, you’ve got super tight hamstrings. But they’ve got other things they are working on. Try to remember yoga is an individual pursuit. It’s about you and your experience.

So I encouraged my son to not get discouraged—but instead to look inward and progress at his own pace.

And all the while, a little voice is shouting,

“Hypocrite! You do the same thing all the time.”

That’s the truth.

Every time I’m in a group class or watching a yoga video, I’m checking out other people’s technique, style and ability. I can tell right away who has had training, in which style of yoga, who is there for the social or spiritual or physical elements of the practice, who is comfortable in the space or new in class.

I like to think this is because I’m usually the instructor and this information is essential to each class I’m going to teach. I need to observe the students to make adjustments, provide feedback, and compliment in an effort the assist them in getting the most out of their yoga experience.

But often I just get caught up in the comparisons.

> She’s more flexible than I am.
> Oh, he’s great at arm balances…wish I could do that.
> Bet I can hold warrior longer. Just keep breathing.

Then, I catch myself, smile at my ridiculous self, shake my head and return to my mat.

And so, I struggle just like my son to remember yoga is about my path, accepting where I’m at today, working toward being authentic and avoiding comparisons that might discourage or intimidate.

Because truly, it’s my breath. My journey. My yoga.

But, man, she sure makes that jump through look easy—why can’t I do that, yet?

Donna Freeman enjoys practicing her jump through in the kiddie pool and plays yoga with great enthusiasm for life and the bounty found therein. She is the author of Once Upon a Pose: A Guide to Yoga Adventure Stories for Children, and can be found on her website or Twitter.

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