I started practicing yoga when I was 22, I was a dancer, vegetarian for 11 years, in great shape, and visited my physiotherapist once a month to make sure my body was properly aligned, none of this prepared me for the horror of my first year practicing yoga.
My body responded well, asanas were not the real challenge, my mind tho, my head was a huge monster chaos, and the way that this monster chaos affected me was frustrating and scary. I thought yoga was doing an asana and once I became a perfect human pretzel I would feel the benefit of the asana, the harder the asana the bigger the benefit, like magic. Imagine how I felt when in child´s pose, in a room full of people, I started crying, then sobbing, and I couldn´t stop and I couldn´t control myself.
I wouldn´t leave the shala floating, smiling or relaxed, I would leave tired, in pain and feeling defeated. I’m not a masochist nor I thought that was part of the process and after a while I would learn to enjoy the practice, to be honest, I didn´t even think of that, the only reason why I would keep showing up was because it was part of the school program and I had no choice but to show up or have an absent mark on my school record, as a Capricorn that was not an option.
I believe we´ve all felt unsatisfied after a class or some activity that we expected to enjoy, and it’s not because of the teacher or the weather or the schedule or any other reason you would like to tell yourself, is your expectation, that idea that you have of how it should have been.
Anyone who has ever survived for more than a month in a yoga class has heard about expectations and attachment to them, and it sound so easy not to do it, we all talk about attachment to expectation like we know what it means and we won’t fall for it. Expectations have been with us since we can remember, but they are nothing more than an illusion, they don´t exist, they are lies, that you choose to believe, that I chose to believe, and every class that didn´t happen what I would expect to happen, I would become more and more disappointed, after many days of being disappointed I became angry, then frustrated then eventually tired of my bullshit, that’s when the magic happened. The day I showed up to class without a care of how and what I would do because I knew I had to go back anyway, that day was wonderful, I had no idea what was going on as usual, but I liked it, I liked it so much I did yoga before going to bed that same day, next thing I know I needed the practice, now the practice is so important to me as drinking water when I wake up.
I still have days, lots of days, where I judge my practice as “not as good as…” or “better than…” and I compare it to another day, but now I’m aware, I laugh about it and thank myself for the opportunity to practice today.
Why did I have to get to the point of exhaustion to let myself experience the practice without judgment?
Because I had no idea I had another choice! I didn’t understand that the same expectations showing up at yoga class where ruining my life experience, I’m not being a drama queen, I am an actress but that’s not the point, we do this every day to ourselves without being aware of how much unnecessary pain it creates.
We believe that if things are not hard they are not worth it if something doesn´t turned as planned is because something went wrong and its somebody´s fault, we project these beliefs in everything we do.
I´ve noticed that the yoga practice is a reflection of the life we live, whatever we do in life we do in practice and vice-versa if you think about it, yoga is a great tool to get to know yourself.
Expectations, positive or negative does not exist, it hasn’t happened, you made it up in your head and you believed it, laugh about it, laugh about yourself. In yoga we strive for the present moment, to be here and now, to accept whatever is happening and then let it go, we really want to let everything go.
Don´t get me wrong, I’m not saying that if you just go to yoga because you consider it a great work out and have no interest in the philosophy is not going to work and you are doing it wrong, no¡ I think is a great physical experience and your body will be thankful even if you don’t read Patanjali´s Sutras. But if you show up to class without any idea other than all the youtube tutorials you memorized, the dream of touching your toes, looking like your Pinterest yoga collection or “eat pray love” in your mind, I would suggest leaving them all with your bag and your shoes, outside the shala.
Today I belive that key to enjoying you practice in any moment of your process is to dive in with curiosity and to come out grateful, of everything you feel like being grateful and what you don´t feel like being grateful be even more grateful, but above it all, be grateful with yourself.