two yoga lessons
Disclaimer: Shit’s about to get (kinda) deep.
There are two different yoga classes I go to in New York, and both teachers are amazing. They strike that balance of saying just the right thing without sounding over-the-top or preachy, and they really make you think and reflect. They’re both funny, too, which breaks up the seriousness (or staggering pain) when you’re in forearm plank for what feels like days.
I learn a lot in a yoga class. And in the moment, these lessons seem easy to implement outside yoga walls. But in actuality, I find that I’m my usual stressed- self once the class is over, no matter how good I feel in the moment, no matter how much I take what a teacher is saying and spin it into action. (Breathe in trust, breathe out hurt! Yes!)
So I’ve been trying to change that. Kristin, a spectacular teacher at Prana Yoga, spent a class reminding us we have the ability to shift any negative thought to a positive one. Simple enough, right? Well, maybe! The other week, I had a particularly not-so-awesome day, and was incredibly looking forward to getting home, making dinner, and falling asleep early. When I finally got to my apartment at 8:30, I realized I left my keys in my locked, Manhattan office (which ended up being a two hour ordeal). Immediately I teared up, so mad at myself for forgetting my keys (I actually have a really great streak of not losing or forgetting things) and quickly blamed my “worst day everrrr” for doing this to me. Then, I remembered what we learned in yoga, and immediately tried to shift the negative situation to a positive one.
First, I told myself that the previous doings of my day were totally unrelated to what was happening now, and I couldn’t say “welp, this is the icing to the cake!” If I had a great day, I wouldn’t have been so upset, so I should just roll with it — realize it happened, that I was locked out, couldn’t change it, and just had to fix it. Then when I finally got keys to the office and was meandering through Gramercy and Flatiron, I noticed I was speed walking. Hurrying. Just trying to get back home into my bed and continue to think about how unfair life was. I stopped myself. It was 9:30. It was beautiful out. It wasn’t too cold, and it was quiet. The street I was on was relatively quaint for Manhattan. And never in a million years would I be walking around east 22nd street at this time, so I might as well damn enjoy it.
It sounds kind of stupid, but it was like I forgot I had the ability to change how I was thinking. I didn’t need to be mad or upset. I just had to make a simple shift from the negative to the positive, and it was that easy. And for the rest of my journey home, I was thankful that I took that impromptu walk in Manhattan, that it was a beautiful night, and that I was able to get my keys and safely end up back in my bed.
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Dave, a teacher at Hosh Yoga, always ends his practice saying “remember, you are perfect just the way you are.” Sounds cheesy on here, but let me tell you, it sounds AMAZING after 75 minutes of what is usually a mentally and physically challenging class. Nevertheless, he is usually teaching/reminding his students that inside we are already good people, beautiful people, and we just have to dig inside and find it, show it, be it. I remember him specifically saying “it’s not a matter of ignorance; it’s not that people don’t realize they are not beautiful. It’s misperception: People actually believe they are not beautiful. This idea is a great, simple reminder that any person we want to be, we can be…because we already are. We just have to have the courage to believe it without thinking about any other opinions, your own or others.
Both of these lessons also reminded me of the final chapter in Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, which I will leave you with:
“The world, my friend Govinda, is not imperfect, or on a slow path towards perfection: no, it is perfect in every moment, all sin already carries the divine forgiveness in itself, all small children already have the old person in themselves, all infants already have death, all dying people the eternal life. … In deep meditation, there is the possibility to put time out of existence, to see all life which was, is, and will be as if it was simultaneous, and there everything is good, everything is perfect, everything is Brahman. Therefore, I see whatever exists as good, death is to me like life, sin like holiness, wisdom like foolishness, everything has to be as it is, everything only requires my consent, only my willingness, my loving agreement, to be good for me, to do nothing but work for my benefit, to be unable to ever harm me.”
Namaste, swear I’ll go back to being cynical soon,