There is no room for you and your ego on your yoga mat.
We have a sign as you walk into the studio that says “Please leave your outer soles here and enter with your inner soul” This has several meanings; please remove your shoes before entering as well as leave anything that doesn’t serve you on your mat such as your ego at the door. Yet it is amazing how many times we approach our yoga mat and bring our ego with us. When we practice with our ego we never expose our weaknesses therefore we never truly face what is going on physically or emotionally. Yoga is a tool for growth and transformation and the ego stands in the way of change.
“If your practice is about performance you are guaranteeing weakness in your body, because your strong side will only get stronger and your weak side will only get weaker. Your more flexible side will get longer but your blocked side will get tighter. Why? Because if you are performing, your ego will never let you expose your weaknesses and blocks.” 40 Days to Personal Transformation by Baron Baptiste. Therefore we limit our ability to remove the rocks as well as the masks that we are hiding behind.
The ego gets fixated on the areas that we are good at and likes to excel. For instance I tend to be physically stronger than flexible. So when faced with postures that take more strength I am usually more at ease than when faced with practicing postures such as the splits (Hanumanasana). I have never been able to do a split and I don’t know if my body will ever open up enough but it is interesting what happens to my ego when I see others gracefully entering the splits with what seems like so much ease. Those are the times it is tempting to take a bathroom break.
In 40 Days Baron states that “It was braver to expose my insecurities rather than to hide them”. That reminded me of a quote I read somewhere, “It is the weak that are cruel and the strong that are kind”. If we aren’t willing to look at our weaknesses they will only get weaker creating a state of deeper insecurity. When we are in a weak state of being and feel vulnerable we are more likely to react out of fear rather than love.
I realized in order to continue to grow in my practice and life I needed to focus on my weaknesses as much as, if not more than, my strengths. To practice yoga is to practice the art of staying. Over time I have been willing to let my weaknesses get exposed no matter how messy it may be or unattractive I may look.
Baptiste suggests that yoga helps distinguish the real you from the not real you. Sometimes our fear of opening up is our fear of getting to know ourselves. The only way to get to know ourselves beyond the ego is to get the ego out of the way. By avoiding our weaknesses for fear of how we may look we miss out on the opportunity to strengthen our body and mind and therefore grow.
As Hanna Riley one of our teachers said “tuck your ego in your shoes at the door”! Don’t be afraid to leave your ego with your shoes at the door. If we can’t feel safe on our yoga mat to let go and grow then where can we?
With gratitude and love,
Owner/Director of Bala Vinyasa Yoga