Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Yoga Egos and Injuries

 “God damn it I’m going to get this!”

When that thought enters your head you’re done. Drop to child’s pose, lay on your mat, just chill.  Do whatever you need to do but do not do the pose.

When that thought enters your head, you’re no longer doing yoga. You are doing some version of gymnastics where no pain no gain becomes your mantra. That is not yoga.

A few observant people in class this week have noticed I’m not raising my right arm overhead or doing chaturangas.  They know something is up and they know I’m not talking about it.

Ok, I’m admitting it here. I lost my intention and forced the pose. And I’m paying for it now with a strained rotator cuff.

Before beginning practice I’ll often ask my students to set their intention.  What do they hope to gain, learn or offer on their mat tonight?

Intentions are different from goals. A goal is something you measure and check off. An intention is a conscious gesture to align your body, mind and spirit to whatever action you are about to undertake. Everything we create begins with a thought.
Every day, every beginning, we ask ourselves what is my intention?

But sometimes our intentions waver or we lose our way. Perhaps someone plants seeds of doubt or more likely we question ourselves. 

Our ego creeps in and tells us to go deeper, push harder, do more. The ego reminds us that the girl in the front row can do that pose so why can’t you?  Listening to our ego makes us forget the power of grace in the pose. The ability to say I’m tired and must rest now. The knowledge that there is no perfect pose, but rather only a perfect balance between effort and surrender.  

When body, mind and spirit are aligned, we know that to drop to our knees and rest is staying true to our yoga. I now have a physical reminder that I forgot why I was on my mat in the first place and I let my ego take over.

Or as one of the teen girls in my yoga for dancers class put it, “Yo, Miss Jennifer needs to practice what she be preachin’!”


  1. it is humbling is it not? And I so hate to eat crow!

  2. It's a tough for me to treat yoga for what it is supposed to be instead of just another avenue to help my dancing. You are soooo right though, I needed that insight this morning! Thank you for sharing and hope you are on the mend!