Handling Discomfort and Hard Moments with Yoga
So yesterday I had a yoga experience that challenged me mentally and emotionally.
Let me preface this by saying that the class was with a teacher that was new to me, at a studio I don’t frequent, BUTTTTTT despite the context of this post, I will most definitely return to this studio again–and even this instructor.
As I entered the space, I was ridiculed for not promptly removing my shoes and putting them in a cubby. And not ridiculed in the nice “oh I’m sorry, you must not have known this is our policy” kind of way. In the “STOP! DON’T MOVE YOU MORON TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES!” kind of way. EEP! I did not know that we had to instantly remove our shoes (there was no sign) and I had thought that we were to take them to the cubbies in the locker room/dressing room area. The teacher probably thought she was telling me in a nice way, but instead her tone made me feel awkward, uncomfortable, and like a bit of an idiot. But never fear, I took my flip-flops off right away! And felt a bit shaken before class had even begun….
Then, at the start of class, the teacher felt she had to make a very strict announcement about how everyone has to remove their shoes before class. Instead of this being positive and being a gentle reminder, it made me feel like I was being singled out in front of class and want to cry. I wanted to leave the yoga class before it had even begun. As though waiting a few seconds to take off my shoes (when there is a huuuuuge lobby with many rooms, dressing rooms, lockers, benches, etc. all past the little itsy bitsy shoe area at the entrance) meant I was a terrible person and ruining class for everyone. I would never walk into the actual yoga room with shoes on! I felt horrible.
Breathe in, breathe out. I decided I was here for yoga and to let it go. That’s why I come to yoga. To experience uncomfortable things and then to let them go. I decided to look at the shoe incident as a way to better connect to my breathe and my feelings. At that moment, I felt a bit annoyed, angry, frustrated, uncomfortable, and even sad. Those are all feelings I hate to experience. But I forced myself to breathe into them…and then LET THEM GO!
Towards the end of class, the teacher yelled at me to drop my head back. This was my first class with her and prior to class she had not asked about any past injuries. (Nor did she know that I am a yoga teacher myself!) Basically, she did not know my body. I politely said, “no, I’m good here because I have a past injury.” Usually, that will shut someone up and maybe after class they will ask for more information, etc. She did not. Instead she gave me a modification and very forcefully told me to take it (again, not asking for my background). I wanted to ignore her and do the version that countless other teachers have told me to practice and that I know is of better benefit to me and my healing process. But the lady was scary and I didn’t feel like having her pick a fight with me, get mad with me, or send bad energy to me for ignoring her. So, second time through the back-bend I did her modification. I felt so angry and annoyed and upset.
Again, I chose to breathe through the pose and breathe through my emotions. I hate to feel angry, frustrated, upset, and try to avoid these feelings as much as possible. By ignoring them, however, I don’t deal or experience these emotions and can feel them get stuck in my body, stuck in my mind, stuck in my heart. While I was literally reacting to anger from a poorly given instruction, my breathing into the emotion allowed me to let go of anger from more than the class. I was able to let go of past feelings of frustration and madness that I let get stuck in my body. I inhaled the mad, exhaled the mad. And found some new clarity and calm in the present moment.
After really experiencing and letting go those icky feelings, let me tell you, savasana (final relaxation) felt AMAZING!!!
So, despite the instructor rubbing me the wrong way, I would go again. She helped me to get closer to the present moment, to feel emotions, that make me super duper uncomfortable, and get out of my comfort zone. Now, when I encounter negativity, annoyance, frustrations elsewhere in life, I will be better equipped to breathe through them and not let them bring me down. I will find my zen even if the world seems to be hostile and crazy.
And that is a lesson that cannot be taught..only felt.
So thank you scary yoga teacher lady. You helped me get down with my mad self and learn that those feelings are ok. And if you breathe through them, acknowledge them, and then let them go….you feel pretty amazing.
How do you cope with feelings you don’t like or enjoy?