I'd rather have my ego bruised
Yoga is not about being flexible or achieving certain postures, nevertheless it can give a downright thrill if, after months or even years of practicing, you are suddenly able to perform a difficult asana. There are some days when you are forcing it too hard in a yoga class. I am talking about those days when you are not entirely focused on your own practice, but your gaze just keeps shifting across the room to see how the person next to you is doing. You cannot seem to straighten your legs in a certain posture and you try to figure out whether “Jenny’s” legs are indeed straightened. (And Jenny’s legs will certainly be straight).
I ran track before I started doing yoga and competed for many years. So I always had to check my ego while doing yoga. At first that was not that difficult, I was a beginner and there were a lot of postures that were out of my reach, I quickly learned to accept that forcing was useless, there was nothing else I could do. After starting my teacher training it all became a bit more complicated. I wanted to prove that I was good enough to teach, flexible enough, strong enough. (Which ironically just showed that at that time I was not ready to teach because I did not understand that all of that was not what counted.)
In some postures there is just so much work left to do that I do not even attempt to get further than others, not even subconsciously. Yet in poses where I am quite close to achieving the “final” posture, I do sometimes get a tendency to push it. That is bad, it is not yoga, and it is definetely not helping. It is not helping because first of all falling out of a balance pose with my leg folded into a half lotus is definitely not on my bucketlist and second of all even if I were to achieve the pose, it would just be a pretty pose and hardly connected to my practice. I remember learning how to lift up in sirsasana, which I learned during my time in the rainforest in Costa Rica.
Like sirsasana, in which I am quite close to achieving the “final” posture I get the tendency to push it. That is bad, it is not yoga and it is definitely not helping. I had been working for more than a year in order to achieve a lift off to get to sirsasana. During that time there were moments of frustrations, but often I was so far from reaching my goal that I did not bother to try and push it, I knew it would not work. However, when I did get into the posture I was determined to get a picture of me standing upside down. That is right: I just wanted to show off: hello EGO! But when I attempted to take the picture I was so distracted by my thoughts that I stopped listening to and connecting with my body. The result was me tumbling out of the posture over and over again. I fell, a lot, and as my frustration grew I started to push even harder and eventually got really close to seriously injuring myself.
That was when I decided that it was enough and that I would rather have my ego bruised than my body. Minutes after I made that decision something great happened. First of all, because I got humble once more my frustration disappeared and I started to enjoy the practice again. I had so much fun that I could even get up to an easy, steady sirsasana, simply because I let my body do the work instead of trying to do it with my mind. I was smirking while standing on my head and decided to remember the lesson my body taught me. It is not mind over matter, all you need to do is be patient and tune in with your body. The next day I actually got my picture, due to the fact that it did not matter anymore, I knew that if it would not work out that day there would be many other days and chances. My body is still whole, I did not injure myself, well except maybe the bruises on my ego, but I am convinced that they will heal eventually.
Remember to keep smiling and taking it easy, you are where you need to be at this moment and you will get to where you want to be. Just be patient.