Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Upward Facing

I am pretty into yoga. I try to take about 3 classes a week and have been practicing for a while.

I love yoga. To me it's like therapy and exercise rolled into one. For those of you that are curious, I go to Prema Yoga and take class with Lesley. I've been going to Lesley's classes for years now. She is a great teacher. She plays amazing music and designs challenging, sweaty, inspiring classes. She manages to set a tone that both encourages you to strive, and leaves room for self-nurturing.

My favorite spot in the room is the front left corner. I like to be by the two windows in the corner of the room. I love looking outside when I am practicing. There is a large tree right outside the window that inspires me to stay grounded. The playground across the street reminds me to be light and have fun with my practice.

OK, so far this descriptions of my yoga experience sounds pretty la di da, right? Balance, playfulness, peace...I'm sure that you are imagining that I am one of those people that is always blissed out in yoga, welcoming each pose as I effortlessly bend my body into various contortions.

Yeah, not so much. I am lucky enough to have had some pretty ecstatic yoga experiences, but more often than not, this is what is going on in my mind during yoga class:

Class Begins:

Ok... focus Nora.
    Hm. My body feel heavy today. I feel slugglish.
I'm not really in the mood for this.

Tired already. 
                          I bet no one else is struggling like this.
Ahh child's pose, can I just stay here the rest of the class?
      I'm so lazy. No one else is taking a break.
I really wish class was over.
                         What time is it anyways?
                                          More effort.
Do I look funny in this posture. I feel funny.
I think my butt is sticking out.
OK, come back. Focus on your breath.
                                    Ow, this hurts. I wish I was more flexible.
                   I used to be so flexible.
Everyone else is so flexible.
        I wish I was skinnier.
I bet I could do this pose better if I was skinnier.
Stop it Nora.
                        Stop being so mean to yourself.
     Wow, this class is hard. I am so tired.
I bet everyone else is totally blissed out right now.
                                   I'm the only one in my head.

Class dismissed.

In summary: everyone is better than me at yoga, no one else struggles, everyone else is blissful, while I am trapped in my mind.

So, here's what happened the other day that I felt was so important that I wanted to share all of this with you.

Last Friday I had an appointment to make immediately after my 4:30 yoga class so instead of my normal spot at the front of the room I put my mat in the back of the room so I could quickly grab my things and get out the door as fast as possible once class was over.

Well, from this new vantage point something amazing happened. From this position I could actually see what other people were doing, rather than just getting to imagine it. And what did I see? I saw people doing yoga. There were beautiful postures and some not so beautiful postures. There were people with great stamina, but there were many who needed to pause or take a break. Some people looked kind of goofy. Some lost their balance.

It was only while watching my peers do yoga that I even realized that all those thoughts that were usually in my head were totally self-created. I mean think about it. I am normally in the front of the room where I can't even see anybody!

The point is not that I am better at yoga than I thought, or that other people are worse, or anything really having to do with yoga. The point is that this experience helped me see that my mind was filled to the brim with self-limiting beliefs.  These beliefs colored what I saw.

Some people believe that we create our own realities.  Like life is a dream.  {Think Matrix}.  The sun, the flowers, the traffic jams, the jobs, the relationships, the conflicts, and the joys are our own creation. I'm not sure where I stand on that.  But what I do believe with total confidence is that we shape our reality by how we perceive it.   And how we perceive it is a direct reflection of inner beliefs about our selves, the world, and how we fit into the world.

A year ago, regardless of where I laid my mat down in the room, I think I would have seen a room full of people that were better than me. However, this past year I have been doing so much work on myself, challenging all of those pesky beliefs that tell me I am not good enough, smart enough, _____ enough.  I am finally ready to see the truth. The truth is that I am human, as are all the other yogis in my class (and everyone else in the world) and that as humans we are each perfect and imperfect in our own special little ways.

My self-critical thoughts will probably never go away. What will change, what has changed,  is my ability to see these thoughts as false, shrug them off, and get back to the business of living my life, enjoying the moment, striving for growth, and trying to keep my balance.

Taking it IN: Do you struggle with thoughts of not being _______________ enough? What will it take for you to challenge that belief?


  1. Great blog today. So right on. THank you! Oh, And even if you have to remind yourself to not worry about it, I'm sure your butt looks AWESOME when it's sticking out (or not) in those yoga poses :)

  2. This is the best blog. If you ask me, debunking internal myths is just about the hardest thing to do in the world. "New vantage points" is the lead banner in the self-acceptance parade. i'm going to make one for myself. thanks for sounding the horn so loud and proud.