As a Yoga teacher, one of my greatest hopes is that people begin to take their practice off their mat. My hope is that when you leave from a yoga practice, something sinks a little deeper so you can be kind and compassionate to everyone around you. Being nice to yourself and others is a central theme in Yoga, but how far has your Yoga taken you?
My favorite story is of someone in Los Angeles leaving class. They see they have a parking ticket and immediately begin cussing up a storm filled with rage over this ticket. A few years ago, we got several voicemails full of expletives (the person didn’t know their message was being recorded). Moments later we received a voicemail in the sweetest voice from the same phone number, “Hello, I was wondering if you were going to have classes today? I am a level 3 yoga student and would like a harder class please.” More recently, I watched a yoga student get upset when I asked her to remove her phone from the practice area. She was mad at me because I caught her at the end of class trying to send a text before savasana! These examples are all around us… Students who come to yoga each day, maybe they even teach yoga, yet forget the basics of being polite and kind to their fellow human beings.
I have started to wonder how deep our niceness goes… Maybe you can only be nice and happy up to a point. Maybe you notice yourself slipping down the slope of complaining too much or being rude to a hostess at a restaurant. What can you do to redirect that frustration? How can you practice Yoga in those moments rather than taking it out on someone else when you don’t get your way or something isn’t going as planned? What self-checks do you have in place to be sure your feelings and expectations aren’t being projected on to someone else?
I know what helped me… I pretend Max is always in the room. Max has been my Yoga teacher for the last 12 years. He has always been kind, ethical and sets a clear example of how to live your life. If I were to rage at someone or begin complaining constantly, I have a feeling Max would be a little disappointed. I figure he trained us to live our yoga- on and off our mats and to be an example to others around us. I know I want to keep that alive and well. I also know I don’t want someone to see me get pissy and ask me, “How is your Yoga working for you?”
If you suffer from chronic complaining, negativity, getting upset if others don’t meet your expectation, think of someone who taught you to be kind. Imagine that person looking over your shoulder. What would they see? Imagine the person you were frustrated with was someone from your weekly yoga class asking you, “How is your Yoga working for you?” Maybe… just maybe… this will help.