So, sometimes when life gets busy, I sneak into the studio a few minutes before my class to practice yoga before actually teaching it. The other day when I was in the beautiful Sky room at Beyond, it occurred to me there were no mirrors. While I obviously have been aware of this before, perhaps it was more relevant on this day as I was practicing yoga for one of my favourite, and ironically least favourite benefits. What I like to call the FYOS benefit of yoga; Face Your Own, well Stuff (fyi, that is a g-rated substitution on the S word). Yes, my friends, one of the greatest, and often most difficult side effects of yoga is how much it makes us really look in the mirror, even when, or perhaps especially when, there isn’t one. And honestly, sometimes that ain’t pretty.
Envy, jealousy, self-doubt, resentment and insecurity are all feelings we all have, sometimes every day. And that’s okay. It is what we do with them that matters. Ignoring them does not work, trust me, I have spent many a days trying that one. This just allows those feelings to fester, grow and strengthen. No matter what we do, they will come out somehow, and often in really unhealthy and sometimes quite hurtful ways. Silent resentment, petty putdowns, tears, blame, mean sarcasm, self destruction, and my personal favourite (said tongue in cheek) outbursts of anger are helpful to no one, and generally leave everyone involved feeling like rubbish.
The mirror, or lack of, in yoga can really help. Ugly emotions are not fun. Acknowledging them, even less so, but very necessary. Truthfully, much better to do on your own, on your yoga mat, then in any of the above unhelpful ways. Trust me, I have tried both, yoga is definitely better.
It is actually very self-centred, this practice of yoga. When you are on your mat, your whole focus is to be on you, your breath, your movement, your mind. And this focus on your self, helps you, well, focus on your self. Face your own stuff if you will. Which can be difficult I truly know, but luckily the practice of yoga is also generally a serious confidence boost, reminding us we can handle anything, especially our own feelings.
This is the thing…the season of festivities and festering feelings, is coming quickly. And never is there a time of year that I know of with more expectations, emotions and energy. All much better faced with yoga. Ironically, the holiday season is probably the one we look most in the mirror literally, so why not figuratively too. Unroll your yoga mat, trust me, you won’t regret it.
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