Stroking the Ego…

stockingegoWhen asked why she used to strive for the perfect drop back from standing to a backbend in her yoga practice, our philosophy teacher, Rose says very seriously: “Because it was exhilarating….Oh, and I used to take naked pictures of myself on the beach doing drop backs to send to my boyfriend…”

Well, at least she’s honest about it! But, putting Rose’s crazy hippie days in Goa aside, we all have a pose in our practice that we strive for and love to do. While there is nothing wrong with that, somewhere along our yoga path our ego can get too big for its boots, and that pose we so covet can land us with an injury. We forget that the physical practice (asana) is just one tool in the yoga box, and that it is in fact number three of the eight limbs of yoga. Out in front are the much overlooked ‘yamas and niyamas’ – yoga’s little moral and ethical codes. (I’ll delve into those another day!)

I’ve been practicing yoga for quite a while now and my ego and I are well acquainted. He often rears his little head to say: “Why aren’t you popping into handstands left, right and centre by now?” or “Haven’t you got that foot behind your head yet? I mean, come on!” He has even followed me to my teacher training in Bali, cropping up frequently during our two hour pranayama and meditation sessions. “Enlightened yet? Didn’t think so! You’ve fallen asleep AGAIN!”

So why are we trying to force ourselves to bend like a pretzel or perform Cirque de Soleil maneuvers? As perfectly put by Pantajali, one of yoga’s founding fathers, “Yoga is concerned with freedom of suffering.” Surely muscling our way into something our body is not ready for is going against this entirely? It is common sense, but we’ve all been there, done that – I’ve had an injury or two to prove it!

In Sanskrit, the word for ego is ‘ahamkara,’ which literally translates as the “the I maker.” It starts off fairly innocent…our ego is what helps to shape our personality and create our experiences. It is when it starts identifying desirable things and creating attachments to those desires that things start to get a little hairy! We are learning a lot about all this on our Level Two training, and it is certainly helping me to face my ego. There is a big emphasis on Yoga Therapy, pranayama and meditation and how yoga works beyond the physical level to evenly distribute our ‘prana’ (life-force) throughout our body.

We definitely won’t achieve the freedom we can get from yoga by holding our breath and forcing our already screaming hamstrings to go further! After all we want to be able to practice yoga for life and not have to stop for a hip replacement. So slow it down, listen to your body, listen to your breath. Tune into your body, and not your neighbours. Smile…enjoy…After all, it’s only yoga!

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  • Reply Annelies August 21, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Don’t worry, our egos are well and truly in check, just when we thought we were getting on top of things Kathryn’s latest class has knocked us for 6, so we’re having a half time pause and checking out your fabulous blog. We can’t wait to have our favourite Dubai teacher back in town and discover those other 8 limbs! Best wishes, Wendy and Annelies 🙂

    • Reply Cheryl Parsons August 21, 2011 at 5:03 pm

      Great to hear! 2 weeks down for me, 3 to go!! Love to both you ladies! xxx

  • Reply Salma August 25, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Love the blog Chezy!!! Miss you, sounds look you are having a fab time. Ramadan is going well. Talking about the ego – I let my practice go for the last two weeks – terrible backache, seeing the chiropractor everyday! Actually felt really good to let go for a while – starting to miss it and can’t wait to get back on my mat even if its for meditation and pranayama. You’ll have to teach me some tricks for the meditation! Please say hi to Lovely Rose and give her a big hug for me – miss her beautiful and inspiring stories and of course morning meditation!!!
    Lots of love and look forward to hearing all your news!
    Salma x

    • Reply Cheryl Parsons August 26, 2011 at 10:44 am

      Hi Salma! Great to hear from you! All going well here, it is a real journey! Looking forward to a much needed break at the end of week 3 tomorrow!! Thanks for reading! Will have more to post over the weekend. Look forward to a catch up and a good gossip when I am back! PS. All my outfits are going down a treat :0) xxx

  • Reply Marcos October 7, 2012 at 7:19 am

    I really love Yoga, and stretad doing it when I weighed 252 lbs! I am still losing weight, but have lost over 50 lbs so far. Yoga was the one exercise I felt that I could do right from the beginning, and from there, I learned to trust my body, and what it could do. It gave me confidence that I hadn’t had before. Yoga is amazing.[] Reply:July 30th, 2010 at 7:54 pmThanks for your encouraging email![]

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