Maintaining confidence and sanity in a society that encourages competition and judgment is tough at work and at play. Herein, I share my story of recognizing and accepting my limitations on the yoga mat...and how I found peace with my yoga practice and new career.
Falling In and Out of Love with Yoga
In the fall of 2013 when I started going to the hot yoga studio just around the corner from my condo in Chicago, I wanted to reconnect with myself on the mat. Working at a law job that I frankly hated, struggling to assimilate to living in a bustling big city, and adjusting to living with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, yoga was all about me: my breath, my movement, my practice.
I rarely considered the instructor or students in the room sweating alongside me, only exchanging the occasional, casual pleasantry. After class, I felt centered and strong – and then rushed home to shower, eat, and get to work.
This past summer, I transitioned from lawyer to yoga teacher at the very same studio around the corner. When I attended class, I started noticing the other students, judging their practice against my own. These comparisons crowded the breath and movement that are so foundational in yoga and left me feeling fretful and dissatisfied, not at all centered or strong. Even better, I decided that the studio’s other instructors did not like me and would never accept me.
Your Mind Is Your Own Worst Enemy
My mind is my own worst enemy. So, naturally, once I left a toxic job for health, family, and a new career, my clever mind transferred any lingering anxiety and competition left over from being lawyer onto my future – a cruel trick, but also a trap that I left myself fall into.
According to The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the seminal yoga scripture, the science of yoga focuses on controlling the mind to achieve inner peace. Our thoughts are merely distractions that we can manage if we are mindful and meditative. What’s more, how we think others perceive us is merely a projection of our own mind onto the unsuspecting public. Am I actually jealous of the other yoga students? No. Do the instructors actually dislike me? No.
Stop Projecting and Show Your Mind Who’s Boss!
When I spilled my insecure guts to a dear friend, Ryan Green, she brilliantly posed the following: Is my determination that the other instructors won’t include me really an accurate reflection of my abilities or their perception of me? Have I even given them a chance to be my friends? Am I not simply projecting my insecurity onto yoga and instructors?
Yes, yes, and yes! I think that Patanjali would agree. The outside world is a projection of what we carry within – how we see the world reflects how we see ourselves. Time to grow up!
No matter what has you in a tizzy, whether it’s a new job or a group exercise class, for your own sake and sanity, stop being angry and disappointed! You will succeed in a new career. You will grow in a new class. You may even make new friends. And, above all, the world you project will be one of confidence and peace.