Bringing Your Practice to Life

Last weekend my soccer team played a brutal game on a scorching 80 degree summer afternoon against a very good opponent. I recognized another player on the other team as a yoga teacher.

To my surprise, she was, quite frankly, very unyogic (stereotypically speaking). She cursed and screamed in anger often, and threw tantrums when a player dribbled the ball passed her. She practically lost it when someone on our team scored a goal. She was upset at everything that wasn’t going her way.

To be clear, I am most definitely *not* saying that yoga teachers don’t get mad, and shouldn’t curse, and shouldn’t “lose it”. I am also not passing any particular judgement on her, because I know that she, besides being a yoga teacher, is a human being like me. I am her, and she is me.

As an observer of the whole thing, it really confirmed to me that we can meditate, do yoga, study and teach yoga, but nothing guarantees that we will be in control of our dark emotions–the hurt, the guilt, the anger–when those situations arise.

The challenge for all of us is not that we don’t have these feelings, the challenge is to use what we learn in yoga to suffer less from them. We may spend an hour or so in class a day, and there are the other 22 odd hours of living and being, when no one is telling us to pause and soften, to keep breathing and observe the breath, to face a difficult pose with equanimity. Those are the lessons we have to teach ourselves, and carry them off the mat and into our own personal lives.