Last week I received a phone call from a friend who had just walked out of a disappointing yoga class, more frustrated than when she stepped onto her mat and not relieved of the stress she had hoped to let go of. She couldn’t focus, she said. She was too aware of the bodies surrounding her and the accompanying heightened smells and sounds of breathing seeming to echo in her ears for the duration of the practice. The class was paced slower than she had wanted, she couldn’t quiet her mind, and walking out the door she could feel the negative energy pulsating beneath her skin. What should she do?
Most of us have found ourselves in a mirrored situation, with similar feelings, and while we often focus on the negative aspects of a disappointing class, we rarely remember the incredible lesson being taught to us in those moments.
It might not be the practice you had hoped for, but a valuable practice nonetheless: a practice in mindfulness.
Though others may be surrounding you, yoga is about you and your connection to yourself and your personal practice. Instead of viewing a class filled with bodies, unwanted poses, and infiltrating thoughts as an irritation, consider it a challenge and an opportunity to grow. How?
- Focus on your breathing, forcing yourself to stay in the present and in tune with your body and mind while naturally finding the calm through pranayama.
- Find awareness by looking inward, honoring your thoughts rather than burying them. Through introspection and recognition of what you are experiencing, you may then be able to understand where your thoughts are truly stemming from, deepening a connection to yourself, and through that acknowledgement then finding yourself able to
- LET GO! Let go of those judgments, those frustrations, and those doubts. We can’t control everything, but we can control our reactions and ourselves.
There is always opportunity for growth. No class is perfect, no person is perfect, but we can all do our best and feel the empowerment through that.