In yoga, there’s no such thing as a perfect practice, and believe it or not, practice doesn’t always make perfect, either! Even the most seasoned yogi still faces these feelings from time to time (or regularly!) What it boils down to is that you aren’t alone, and you aren’t the first, last or only person to be feeling any of the following.
Have you ever felt anger or impatience during a yoga class? Have you ever burst into tears in the middle of a pose? Have you been doing yoga for ten years yet you still feel frustrated when faced with a new style of flow, a new instructor or even on a new mat? You’re not alone! We like to think we’re all so zen when practicing yoga, but in reality, during your practice, a lot of emotions and demons come out. Just remember that this comes with the hard work you need to put into your practice - it’s like therapy. But, breathe, find patience, and know that your frustration will pass - even when you’re low-key annoyed at the instructor for keeping you in a posture for too long. Remember that it’s good to go through things that are uncomfortable - you’re only going to come out stronger.
Balance is tricky, even when you have the opportunity to hold onto something like a chair or the wall. Some days may be more balanced (and energetic) than others, but if you find yourself falling out of a posture as seemingly simple as warrior one, don’t feel surprised or even ashamed. Most of the fun in yoga is paying attention to your body and understanding why it’s more difficult for you to hold certain poses over others. Remember that yoga itself is merely a lesson that teaches you to tune in and connect to the body, mind and soul. It’s bound to get clumsy, and you might even fall! You’re still a good person if you do.
Bad at breathing
The one thing we can all take away from yoga is that nobody knows how to breathe. This is the first lesson you learn, the first time you sit on your mat, and you need to accept that it’ll take a long time to excel at this. Because you have in fact been breathing incorrectly your entire life. So have I! So has almost everyone else. Are we doing it right now? Probably not. But one thing’s for sure, with a little concentration, patience, and unity, we’ll get there - even for just 30 pranayama breaths a day.
Whether it’s the scream of your toes in varjasana (toe squat) or you feel incredibly nauseous and dizzy coming out of camel pose, yoga has a magical way of working with your body. Every pose you go into has a purpose, and getting into those poses may not always present a pleasant effect, but their benefits will appear indefinitely - if not right away, then some day when you least expect it. Think of that rush you get, the tingling feeling at the soles of your feet when propping your legs up the wall! Cool, huh?
More Patient, relaxed and in tune with your body and your environment
The more you do yoga, the more you calm down. It can take a while to get to this point, but seeing a noticeable difference doesn’t necessarily take a long time, either. It’s changes in your everyday life and practice. Are you falling asleep more easily? Are you finding more patience in your postures? Do you get angry a little less and have more energy? Yoga looks good on you, if that’s the case. But if you’re still feeling impatient, irritated, sluggish - you’re not doing anything wrong. Your body is just asking you to use the lessons you’ve learned in yoga a different way - by practicing compassion towards yourself.
Unable to meditate
If you can’t tune out, don’t feel alone. Meditation is not an easy journey, and sometimes, asking your mind to stay still for even just one minute can feel as laborious as moving a mountain. Start out for one minute, and remember, it’s always okay to bring yourself back - no matter how many times you need to do it.
Addicted to yoga
There comes a magical moment, right after your peak pose, when you realize that you’re absolutely in love with yoga and want to keep it as part of your regular routine. This is at the end of the halfway point in class, just before we start winding down and making our way into savasana. Images of toned bodies, green juices, plants, becoming a vegan, fishtail braids and lululemon leggings might start dancing through your head. You may start saying to yourself: “I’m so good at yoga, and one day I will become an instructor.” And you know what? You might actually become an instructor! If that’s your path, go for it - and if you just end up doing yoga occasionally for the rest of your life, that’s okay, too!
During this fun, confusing, tumultuous and oddly catatonic time, we are all practicing at home, but as a community. Relish in the privacy of your own space, the ability to turn off the video function during class (if that makes you more comfortable!) and take advantage of the fact that you have the freedom to really feel your messes, frustrations, beauties and benefits of yoga without the fear of judgment or insecurity. Virtual practices are a great opportunity to explore all the emotions that come tumbling out of your head, hips and heart and onto your mat. So fall, cry, take breaks and pout, but know that we’re all in this together, and somewhere across the world (or three squares down from your name tile on Zoom) a fellow Mindful Life practitioner is feeling something similar. Maybe it’s even your instructor?