Yoga and Your Ego

Last week I wrote about the curious reality that is the male aversion to yoga classes and how I think maybe it is ego driven. But it occurred to me that the same is true with women, it just presents itself in a different way. We go to class and then our ego makes us compete with the person next to us who is more flexible or the woman in front of us who is killing it with an arm balance. Ego was the thing that kept me up in Wheel Pose last night at Y7 Studio when I should have stuck with Bridge.

I realise that this all seems kind of crazy, what with my doing a “master posture” in the above photo. But for me, Kasyapasana isn’t that hard. Sure, I could work on my form. However, my friend talked me into it and boom, there I was. But I can not hold Crow to save my life. I think that maybe one day I might be able to get in to Pigeon Pose, but I doubt it. And I would say that Dragonfly is never going to happen but I try to rid my brain of can’t and instead remind myself that with practice, all is coming.

I went to Yoga Maya today. There were only two of us in the class. At first I was super excited – semi-private class for free! Score! Then, as the teacher destroyed my conversion from Upward to Downward Facing Dog I realised that this class was going to be a serious reality check. I have taken classes, at Yoga Vida especially, where you are so packed in and the teacher is so far away, you can get away with messy chaturangas and no one will be the wiser. But are you any better for it. I was in a class at Yoga Vida, just doing my thing, when I was first asked to fly into Wild Thing (if it’s in your practice). Why not, I thought. And I hurt my shoulder so badly I had to sit out on Eagle Pose the next day in Bikram and was admonished by my teacher.

Yoga class isn’t (or shouldn’t be) the place for such silliness. It is a place for you and your mat and an acceptance of who you are in that moment. So many classes start with the teacher telling you to pay attention to your breath and just be aware of it – not change it, not judge it, just observe. And at the end of class we breathe again, and observe, and see if maybe there is a difference. Variations are offered as options depending on where you are on that day. Not as challenges to see who is “better” or more advanced. I am naturally flexible so certain poses come easy to me. It doesn’t make me a good yogi – it makes me someone with athletic parents and a little bit of luck. Leave your ego at the door, whether you are a seasoned practitioner or someone trying yoga for the first time and just be present on the mat.

And don’t get me wrong about Yoga Vida – I have had some of the best hands-on adjustments there and their basic classes are wonderful for getting down to the nitty-gritty of a pose. I’m taking three classes there next week!



6 thoughts on “Yoga and Your Ego

  1. Great post – it’s so spot on! Isn’t it ironic how the very nature of yoga embodies the release of ego, yet we sometimes allow our egos to define how we practice it? Been there…I love small classes where my chaturanga is not going to be overlooked. I guess I’ve become an alignment junkie :0)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE when teachers or assistants come around and do adjustments. It’s seriously my favorite thing. But when my thighs are sore from yesterday’s class and I see the teacher walking over because they have noticed me cheating in my transition from Chaturanga to Up Dog. Ahhhh! Leave me alone.

      I found myself competing with the woman next to me in Bikram the other day only to find out that she is a teacher. Not winning that one! Clearly I need to work on the other seven limbs of yoga – not just the asanas. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha – that’s awesome (the Bikram teacher gal)!

        Did you cheat by using sloppy form in chaturanga, or did you cheat by doing knees-chest-chin? If I’m modifying a pose using proper form (or if I’m substituting it with another similar pose), and the instructor tries to guide me otherwise I’m like no thanks!

        Wish we had more yoga studios nearby. I’m envious of all of your options! We have corporate yoga on sight, but it’s the Yoga Fit type. So not what I’m after.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Cheating as in I let my thighs hit the ground when I transition from Chaturanga to Upward Facing Dog. I don’t think of modifying as cheating – if you’re using proper form!

    And yes – I am super lucky to work in the Flatiron District of Manhattan where workout options (and specifically yoga studios) abound. I don’t like any kind of corporate yoga classes – I tried Yoga Works once. Wasn’t for me. So formulaic and salesey. Open your own studio! 😉


  3. Hey there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him.
    Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s