Totally had a run in with my ego the other day when I took a Vinyasa Bootcamp yoga class. It was at Sangha House, my favorite yoga studio in NYC as of lately. Between the deep rich red walls and the smiling faces behind the front desk, it’s like walking into a big warm hug whenever I enter into the studio. As I walked in, I was greeted by Robin the owner of the studio and instructor of the bootcamp class. And with a smiling face she told me, no warned me, that this class was not going to be my typical yoga class. I said to myself, ‘I’m an Ashtangi, I can handle it’. I had no clue what I was in for.
The entire hour of class was full of intense fast paced poses designed to make. you. sweat and work muscles you never knew you had. I mean have you ever held a high lunge position with your bottom knee just inches from the ground and pulsed up and down twenty times on each side?!! Hello hamstrings and glute muscles!!
However, what surprised me the most was what was going on in my mind through each and every challenging pose. Thoughts like: “This is too hard”, “You can’t do this”, “You’re not advanced enough to do this pose”, The person next to you is better than you”, “You should just quit”, Wow, talk about being in your head! I realized my mind had been taking over and pulling me out of being fully present in my practice.
The mind is very smart. We can use it to solve the most complex algebra problem but the mind can also use us with it's incessant need to control what we do and don't do.
“We can use our intelligence to create or to destroy, to ennoble our existence or to demean it, to liberate ourselves from the cage of egotism or to chain ourselves to an unworthy fate, to fulfill our highest potential or to live without strength and faith”
Chances are that if your mind is telling you ‘you can’t’ during a yoga pose, it is also telling you this same message in other areas of your life that may seem challenging or difficult. Why is this the case? The mind is very risk averse. It doesn’t like situations that rock the boat or aren’t ‘safe’. The mind wants to avoid uncertainty and remain in the zone of comfort at all times. So when there is a perceived threat to the comfort zone, the mind will begin sending you messages to take you out of danger and into comfort. Sound familiar?
So while I was in Vinyasa Bootcamp upsetting my comfort zone, my mind was hard at work bringing me back to 'safety' by sending me red alert messages in the form of thoughts of ‘you’re not good enough’ and ‘this is too hard’ that ultimately works to come between me and my desired action.
The only answer to a mind gone wild is having awareness in the moment. Allow the thoughts of the mind to enter and like a passing cloud, release them to float on by. Pay close attention from within to every breath, movement; be totally present. When you bring your attention to the thoughts of the mind with non-judgment, you’ll find that all urgency disappears and the mind chatter begins to quiet to a whisper before it slips away completely.
Try this in your next downward dog, handstand, or the next time you find yourself in a difficult situation on or off the mat. Feel the pain and discomfort, understanding that it is a natural part of your growth process. Bring your attention to the moment, mentally and release the mind chatter with love, gentleness and maybe even a little humor. How will you know any of this is working? You'll begin to feel a sense of peace enter within you that was not there before.
In what ways has mind chatter got in the way of your most desired goal? How do you deal with difficult situation or challenges in your day-to-day? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
With Love & Light,
Check out more about Sangha House and try their Vinyasa Bootcamp class on Wednesay’s with Robin. I dare ya! Maybe I’ll see you there!