Find Freedom By Letting Go Of Your Limiting Expectations

bala-vinyasa-yogaI always believed that I live my life to the fullest. I have fun, step out of the box, and live a life that doesn’t look like anyone else’s. But after attending Foundations in Action with Baron Baptiste in Boston last month, I realized that I’ve been setting expectations for myself that are limiting me. I see this come up in my yoga practice, my teaching, and also my life.

Take dancer pose for example. I love dancer pose and the feeling of openness and grace that comes with it. I go to my edge in the pose, opening my heart and body as much as possible… but only for nine breaths, or however long the teacher says we will be holding the pose. I find my biggest expression of the pose just in time to hit the nine breaths, and then I fall out. If the teacher keeps us in the pose any longer than the expected breaths, I crumble. I find my fullest expression of dancer pose, but only to the limiting expectations that I set up for myself in my head.

I put limiting expectations on my life as well. Like, I can’t do headstand so I could never be a yoga teacher. Or, I’ve been a business executive for ten years; the only way I can be “successful” is to become a better business executive. Or, I’m thirty years old and most of my friends are having babies; it’s time I settle down and do the same.

We only know what we know. The same actions, beliefs, and routines we own have led us to where we are today. What would happen if we stopped listening to the limiting beliefs in our heads? What if we opened ourselves up to the world to allow for real possibility — possibility bigger than we can even imagine for ourselves?

At Foundations in Action, Baron suggested we approach our life and our practice with a sense of “it seems like” rather than “it is.” It seems like my hamstrings are tight. It seems like my new co-worker is a drag. It seems like, notit is this way. If it seems like my hamstrings are tight (rather than my hamstrings are tight) and I approach them with a sense of inquisitiveness, I may notice that after I flow through a few sun salutations, my hamstrings don’t seem so tight anymore. Or if I approach my co-worker with a sense of curiosity, rather than labeling him as a drag, I may find there is an interesting, loving person underneath the rough exterior. What it seems like really isn’t the truth at all.

If I approach my dancer pose with it seems like this is my fullest expression of the pose, I allow space to be inquisitive. I allow space for true possibility; not a limiting belief of what is possible that I place on myself. I have no idea what my dancer pose (or my life!) could look like. With curiosity and space, I am able to open up to the beautiful possibilities of life and let all the magical gifts from the universe spill forth.

The Foundations in Action weekend also made me realize that I bring limiting beliefs to my yoga teaching. In my head I create a picture of what a good teacher teaches like and strive to become that perfect package. To me it seems like my students want me to teach a certain way or to teach like the other awesome yoga teachers at Bala Vinyasa Yoga. But as I question my expectations, I realize the only way I can give my students an awesome experience is to show up authentically and teach a class as only I can. By eliminating the limiting expectations I impose on myself, I can allow things to get a little messy and open up to all that’s possible in my teaching.

Have you ever heard that saying, “beyond my wildest dreams?” What if I drop the rigid ideas of what I can and can’t do in yoga and in my life? What will I be left with? Freedom and power.  Yes, FREEDOM and POWER! That’s the answer! Without imposing limiting beliefs on myself, I have the freedom to let my authentic light shine and find what truly makes me powerful in this world. It means the possibilities are endless and I will live a life beyond my wildest dreams. To me, nothing sounds more freeing than that.

Courtesy of Bala Vinyasa Yoga.

© 2011 Copyright   Allison Stuart Kaplan LLC

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  1. I adore this entry–I simply cannot say enough about the phrase, “it seems like,’ which opens up the notion that through language cues (language in inner thoughts), we can and often DO set limitations on our accomplishments and behaviors. I am really going to ponder this post–it makes the notion of ‘liberation’ possible. Thank you.

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