Falling in love with yoga (again and again)

I woke up this windy and chilly Monday morning and turned to my iPhone for some ‘inspiration’ before stumbling out of bed and on a walk with Zen. Yes, checking your phone right when you wake up, and right before bed, is the worst habit ever. And I have it! The world of social media is so vast, and so powerful, it’s like an internet black hole that will suck you right in.

Before I knew it, I clicked on an article someone shared on Yoga Teachers Facebook group entitled something along the lines of “I hate yoga (and other people do too)“ - I will not give it too much credit. The discussion on the group was barely heating up, with fellow yoga teachers expressing how we could learn from comments like these and know what are some of our students thinking in class. So I naturally got intrigued.

Well, I quickly regretted that decision! The person basically argued why she doesn’t like yoga, listing only a few points and then elaborating how the only yoga class she ever took was a mix of martial arts and yoga and she didn’t even know the stretches were derived from yoga in the first place, as nothing else in that class resembled a traditional yoga practice.

The main dislikes listed in the article were as follows:

  • hands-on adjustments (finding ‘soft touch’ from strangers to be borderline creepy);
  • being corrected in their poses and the need to do stretches properly;
  • and all the calm and peace talk (‘I don’t need to be told how to feel, I will feel however I want’ was the argument).
    Unfortunately, I left that page feeling very frustrated, agitated, disappointed, and had to control myself from replying to the article itself, and adding to the Facebook discussion. It was a bad way to start a Monday morning.

I went on my doggy walk fighting with that imaginary person in my head (imaginary because I do not know them just from reading one article). I found myself not only defending my practice in my head, but also remembering all the students I have had in class with a non-cooperative attitude, and then fighting with those people as well. Anger is such an interesting and powerful emotion, it spreads so quickly like a forrest fire.

I began psychologically analyzing the person in my head - she clearly has control issues, I thought. I have definitely encountered people like that in my class, people who have serious blockages in listening and following someone’s instructions. People who do not like to be told to do something differently or receive an adjustment. People who walk into the class in a bad mood and have no intention of changing it, and you shouldn’t tell them to either. I concluded I know all about it and it sucks trying to teach yoga to people like that.

And then I pulled out my mat and started breathing…

Wow, do I love yoga. Yes I do! It helps me get over my serious anger issues. It helps me get over things that are totally irrelevant (case in point). Get over obsessions and negative talk. Bad relationship traction, work issues (I do work as a yoga instructor, but issues arise). Even indigestion is solvable by yoga.

Before the second down dog, my thoughts cleared out. Yes, there are people who do not like yoga. But there is a solution to that.

If you don’t like yoga, well don’t do it!

It’s as simple as that. Don’t get into arguments with yoga lovers about how yoga is lame, do not visit yoga lovers pages or Instagram accounts to vent, and do go find something you do love to do and then do it.

Yes, there is something to learn from an opinion like this one, if you are a yoga instructor. It is good to know what kind of things go to peoples’ heads during your class.

Yoga definitely doesn’t fulfill everyone’s expectations! (harsh, I know, but true).

However, I don’t feel the need, as a yoga instructor, to covert the whole world to yoga. If anything, I would dedicate my time and energy to converting the world to Veganism. One recipe at a time, you know, like with this blog.

But to each their own, and that is surely true with yoga. There are plenty of people who started disliking it, and grew into complete fans. It takes some desire, and some motivation, to stick to the practice (and to any habit, really) until you grow the taste for it. If you enter a yoga class without an ounce of motivation, it probably will not bear fruit.

How to find motivation to do yoga, you ask? Here a a few tips:

  • Learn about all the benefits of yoga, and how they apply to you (maybe you have an injury, back pain, need core strength, or would benefit from inversions).
  • Find a friend to go with; or a cute guy/girl to stalk in your class! (Just kidding. Yoga is about inner peace. There are plenty of people who found motivation like this, though)
  • Find the instructor that resonates with you and listen to them in the class. Maybe they share insightful reflections on everyday life. Maybe they know exactly how to adjust you and what your body needs..
  • Explore different styles of yoga and try ones that appeal you. Most studio websites have detailed descriptions, and instructors or studio owners will gladly suggest a type of yoga or class to start with.
  • Want to tone up and lose weight? Yes, yoga will help. Try a vinyasa, power or hot yoga.
  • Need deep tissue stretching? Yin is for you. Want to relax completely and not move much? Then give restorative a try.
  • Relax in savasana (corpse pose; final relaxation). Meditation is a big part of yoga. Find that sense of calm and peace that many speak of as a result of yoga practice.
  • Practice pranayama, yogic deep breathing. Remember it in stressful situations, and explore the benefits.
  • If you need special instructions, or are shy, private classes are the ultimate luxury in yoga. You don’t need to dress up in Lululemon, no need to even get out of the house, and the instructor will tailor the practice specifically for you, your body and your mind.
  • Are you philosophically inclined? Thing about your life’s path and purpose a lot? Then you have entered the real realm of yoga, the union of body, mind, spirit, and the ultimate union of spirit with the universe or the divine. Read a few books (Yoga Sutras, and The Bhagavad Gita are my favorite). Forget about the asana (poses)! You might find some answers, I sure know I did.. and this is the main reason I practice yoga, if you were wondering.

At the end of the day, unpleasant thoughts, anger, frustration, stress are great motivators to practice yoga. Everything happens for a reason, and if you look for it, you may find a great push towards something great. I started my Monday with an imaginary anger-driven quarrel, and ended up on the mat, reconnecting with the core reason why I love, practice and teach yoga for a living. Now, all I can say to that experience is: Thank you!

I love falling in love with yoga, as many times as it takes, over and over again.