When I tell people I’m a yoga teacher, I can instantly feel the stereotypical assumptions of our kind. People usually think we are all love and peace and serene, living perfect lives with perfect spouses and perfect families. That we never get mad or angry or jealous. That we don’t have judgmental or negative thoughts about anyone. They assume we don’t care about material goods. That we live in small, simple homes. And when not practicing yoga, we spend the better part of our days meditating and spreading love, light and positive vibes throughout the world. And that we are simply perfect.
Although some teachers do live their life like that, I don’t.
Before anything, I’m human, and I am consistently a work in progress. The main thing I’m working on is my impulsive reactions, weather it be on my mat or off. Getting angry on occasion or having an urge to eat a tub of ice cream now and then is not typically problematic; however, when an impulse becomes constant or uncontrollable, it can cause a great deal of suffering and disturbance. Life can feel like it is spinning out of control and the impulses are taking over. Regaining control, balance and peace of mind takes attention, work and most of the time, a lot of yoga.
If you’ve been to a recent class of mine, then you’ve probably heard me talk a lot about reactions lately. Taking a time out before we speak, act or judge is probably the hardest yet most effective action we can do for ourselves. Three things I’ve been hitting up during classes are:
People practice multiple methods of meditation all over the world. The fundamental goal of all meditation, however, is that through systematic concentration techniques, the mind becomes calm and steady, and the meditator experiences tranquility and a sense of balance, peace and self-connection. According to William Stixrud, a clinical neuropsychologist and assistant clinical professor at George Washington School of Medicine: “By practicing regular meditation, the nervous system becomes settled and quiet. And when the stress response starts operating normally, you’re simply less impulsive.”
Tune in to what sets off your impulsive behavior. First, watch the situations as an observer without trying to stop or judge yourself for being impulsive. Take note mentally or in a notebook to keep track of situations where the impulsive behavior arises. After several instances, look back at the situations in which the behavior occurred. Do you feel like overeating any time you are tired, stressed or unable to speak your mind? Do you get angry when you feel ignored or lonely? Look for similarities in the situations and try to identify what is triggering the impulsive behavior. When you identify the problem, you can begin to take action by stopping what you are doing when you notice a trigger coming, thinking about what is really going on, listening to yourself and what you really want or feel, and planning how to take a different action other than the impulsive one.
In our regular yoga practice, we often find ourselves in postures that is difficult, uncomfortable or awkward. The greatest accomplishment is learning to stay within the poses and work through through them. Practicing yoga can also increase and maintain discipline and help you accept uncomfortable emotions and situations during class, thus aiding your efforts to control impulsive behavior that commonly arises out of uncomfortable emotions or situations in daily life.
I believe that as long as we all follow our heart, continue to stand in our truths, take full ownership for our stories and be ok with who we are, we will eventually reach our fullest potential.
After all, life and yoga is all about progress. Just like there is no perfect pose, there is no perfect teacher or perfect class or perfect life. Whatever flaws we have – no matter how unyogic, we need to embrace them. And as long as we show up consistently on our mats and invest our soul and energy to this good practice, and we lead with our hearts instead of our heads, then we’re all yogic.