We yogis love yoga so much that sometimes we treat yoga as a panacea to all of life’s problems. It’s not. I’ve been acutely reminded of this over the past few months.
Despite a near-daily asana practice, I’ve been in a consistent funk with no clear origin or exit. I’ve felt negative, I’ve doubted myself and my gifts, and I’ve felt just generally down. I have found myself in the midst of stressful situations struggling to maintain perspective, struggling to breathe mindfully, struggling to just keep my cool. I have failed as much as I have succeeded. This was particularly disappointing because I felt that, as a yogi, I should do better. I mean, I teach yoga, for goodness’ sakes. I wake up at the crack of dawn, and sometimes before, to get in a practice almost every day. Yet, my struggles persist.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The physical practice of yoga can be transformative, especially when combined with yoga’s other principles, like meditation and breath work. But yoga doesn’t fix problems so much as shed light on them and maybe, just maybe, help us see a path toward moving through or beyond those problems.
And I suppose I’ve caught a glimpse of that light. During stressful situations, there is a part of me that rages like a bird against a cage, and another that calmly observes and points toward another way — a calmer way. This calmer me doesn’t always prevail, but at least I can hear the voice — and I have yoga to thank for that.
But, importantly, yoga hasn’t magically made stressful situations disappear, or granted me a patient disposition to replace the anxious one I’ve spent decades cultivating. To expect even a consistent yoga practice to fix these problems is unrealistic; change takes time.
As I continue on my yogic journey, I’m noticing that the path toward inner peace is less like a peaceful stroll, and more like chasing a wild goose in the mud. Yoga won’t catch the goose for me, but maybe it’ll give me the strength to chase that goose. Or, better yet, maybe yoga will help me drop the chase altogether and develop the patience to allow the goose come to me.