Vail Valley yoga: Learn to let go of your ego
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –As a yoga teacher in the Vail Vlaley, when I meet new people and they ask me what I do for a living, I usually get a response that sounds something like, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to try yoga, but I’m WAY too inflexible… I can’t even touch my toes.”
My answer to them is, “but that is what yoga’s for – to gain flexibility.” But I’m not talking about being physically flexible, I’m talking about being mentally flexible – letting go of the ego.
If people aren’t going to yoga classes because they are too stiff, I argue that it’s not because they are stiff, it’s because they feel embarrassed about the way they might “perform” in yoga class.
The good news is there are no grades in yoga, and your first real lesson from yoga may not be learning to touch your toes or getting your nose to touch your knee, it may be something more profound, like how to resist judging yourself (which is something we all do quite often).
This was actually my first lesson in yoga, and I’ll share my story with you. My very first yoga class was nothing like I had pictured. It was both a physically and mentally challenging class.
The physical challenge came right away as I realized my arms were actually shaking in “downward facing dog,” a pose I tried to muscle myself into so that I looked like the others. But the mental challenge came as I couldn’t stop my mind from racing –I was thinking “how long are going to hold this downward dog thing” for and “why are my arms shaking?”
I was frustrated with myself within the first 10 minutes of class. After holding down dog for what felt like an eternity, we moved into a forward bend. As I tried to force my head towards my knees, I was sure that the whole room was looking at me, finding my inflexibility hideous.
The yoga teacher must have read my mind, “Fold forward softly, coax the body deeper into your stretch, do not judge it, but just be present with your body and breath and nothing else.”
But I couldn’t let go of the inadequacy of my performance in this class. I continued to struggle to get deeper into the poses as I didn’t want the instructor to think that I wasn’t good enough for this class.
My inner monologue continued as the people next to me seemed to be in their own blissful world. I wondered how they could look so calm and happy, and why I just couldn’t turn off that voice in my head.
After that first class, I continued to go to yoga, because I wanted to get better. Soon I realized that it wasn’t necessarily my flexibility that I was gaining but that the awful voice in my head became softer and less judgmental. And after a while, I started to take this lesson off of the yoga mat and into my life, letting go of the daily judgments I was making of myself and others.
Many of us spend a lot of time and energy pushing ourselves to be the best, judging how we look physically, judging how successful we are in our jobs and judging if we are simply “good enough.” But what does it mean to be “good enough?”
Even when it comes to taking a simple yoga class, we let the ego get in the way. But yoga can help you accept yourself for who you are – can you say that you already do that? It’s hard isn’t it? It’s a practice, and it’s the practice of yoga. So is yoga for you? Yoga is for everyone.
Kelly Marshall has been practicing yoga for more than nine years. She is owner and lead yoga instructor at Yoga off Broadway on Third street in Eagle. For more information, visit http://www.yogaoffbroadway.org or call 970-328-YOGA.
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