Life Lesson on a Yoga Mat

Life Lesson on a Yoga Mat

I’m a Yogini without an asana practice. At least not a regular one. But every time I do Yoga I feel that I want more of it in my life. So naturally, I signed up for a Yoga retreat with Christine Chen and Von Love at Present Moment Retreat in Mexico. It also happened to be my birthday week so I knew it was the right thing to do. I make it a point to spend my birthday somewhere warm, preferably by the beach.

I went to this retreat with the intention to be present, stay on my own mat – I often have a tendency to be very concerned what’s happening around me and can get rather competitive, too – ask for what I need, to be open to what comes my way, trust my body and have fun, too.

Honoring my Intention with an Unexpected Outcome

We practice in a beautiful open space with a view over the ocean. It’s gorgeous. It’s also right next to the restaurant and that combined with the sound of the waves means that sometimes it can be hard to hear Christine or Von.

So honoring my intention to ask for what I need, I decide to set up my mat in the front row, the furthest away from the restaurant so I could hear well. So far so good until Von cues asanas that I have no idea what they look like. The problem with being in the front is that I have no one to look at and I feel completely lost. I don’t know what to do. This goes on for a while and I feel the frustration and tears rising.

What happened next and over the following 60 minutes was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced. I could see myself go through an entire cycle of rage, fear, compassion, realization and relief. It was a major life lesson compacted in an hour.

Tears of Frustration, Compassion and Relief

I’m in rage! This is obviously Von’s fault, how dare he assume that everyone just knows what to do. Why is he not meticulously cueing every single move?! In full-on blaming mode, I suddenly have some sort of outer-body observer experience. I realize this is fear talking! I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m not good enough, what’s everybody else thinking, etc.

This isn’t my first rodeo with fear so I know the best antidote is to practice self-compassion. Mind you – at the same time I’m still trying to follow Von’s class! I’m intensify my breathing and tell myself it’s OK. Then tears start streaming down my face unstoppably. I’m a huge empath so I’m not only tearing up over the compassion I grant myself, I also cry because I feel terrible that I was so hard on myself.

Then it hits me. I’m in the middle of a Yoga class among other people, I’m crying, an emotional mess trying to keep up with the class. And here is the killer, NO ONE notices what’s going on with me because this is all happening in my own head. I am fully and utterly responsible for putting myself through this misery! I have no one else to blame! I’m doing this to myself, it’s an entirely internal conversation. Wow!

And then it hits me again. If I’m the one putting myself through this, I can also stop it and free myself! It’s that simple. On my journey so far I have learnt that I’m a conscious co-creator of my reality. I can chose what stories I’m telling myself. I can decide whether I let fear rule and disempower myself or if I chose compassion and courage instead!

Shavasana Never Felt Sweeter

We are laying in Shavasana. I’m exhausted. I’m also happy and relieved and somehow even proud. I’ve lived through every one of these stages before. Probably even in one go but I’ve never had the experience to be able to observe myself. That was pretty incredible. Now, I know that this path of self-discovery and development will never end and I’ll probably get to a similar point again. But this was a special experience and I hope that the realization will stay with me for a while! Namaste!

Author: Barbara Sennrich

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