So here’s the honest truth, my most challenging work in yoga has nothing to do with a kick ass asana practice. It also doesn’t really have to do with enlightenment. It’s confession time. My real work, since the day I stepped on a yoga mat, is to stop judging.
I’ve got a lot of those so called vrittis spinning around in my head. While I’m supposed to be meditating, child’s posing, downward dogging or half mooning, my natural instinct is to scan the room with my eyes and ears to take in what everyone else is doing and give them my two cents (silently of course).
It sounds a little something like this, “who is sighing like that?? Is that really necessary? So distracting!!” or “oh man, that girl really needs to spread her fingers. She is going to hurt her wrists!! Where is the teacher??.” or, “doesn’t the teacher realize they have used that same example 20 times in this class alone? Cringe!”
Of course those negative vrittis can be self directed. “Can people tell how badly I suck at triangle?” “I will never be able to jump back from crow into plank.” “Ugh, I can’t believe I screwed up at work and now all I can do is ruin my yoga practice replaying it over and over in my head.”
I get it. It’s all wrong. I am not defending my actions. What I’m saying is go ahead, judge me for judging. Really. Because it is not fair. It’s not fair to you the person being judged, it’s not fair to me as the annoying judger wrecking my own yoga practice and it’s not fair to everyone in my space as I pump out black clouds of negativity.
So before everyone freaks out who practices with me or teaches me, don’t worry, Judgey McJudgerson is mostly a thing of my past. I’ve learned to sigh spontaneously in class because it feels good. It gets stuff out. It also means I appreciate the sighs of others. I’ve realized teachers are human (what an epiphany!) they can’t see everyone in the room every second, and even if they could they might have a darn good reason not to be giving the correction I see. Also, how can I expect teachers to weave us new analogies for the exact same yoga tip for every single class?? Even that is asking too much from the top wordsmiths (which hello, I am not). Yes, we are all human.
So, I am letting go of this stressful side of myself. It comes with practice and it comes with age. But occasionally that self conscious gossipy 16 year old rears her ugly head again and I spend the class battling her. I take out my dowel and play whack a mole. Maybe that is not the right technique but sometimes I get desperate.
I know I’m not the only judger out there, and I want you to know it’s cool. When I start my lunge with the wrong foot, when I groan and it weirds you out, and when you catch me making a funny face in chair pose, I’m ok with the fact you are judging. But maybe there is a lesson here. Maybe it’s time for you to enjoy your practice. Maybe you are spending so much time judging yourself and me and you are truly missing out on something amazing.
I’ve been working on Ahimsa. Kindness to myself and kindness toward others. Although this kindness thing is harder then it looks, I’m thinking it is time to take this non-judging kindness thing a step further. Perhaps, if I can stop judging myself for judging, kindness will work itself out for me on my mat and off. Here’s hoping!