Challenging Ourselves to Change

In order to change, one must challenge herself.

I have been knocking these words around in my head a lot these days, and you’ve probably heard me say them in yoga classes as well.

I have many clients that have been with me for several years now, and I am grateful for their attendance at yoga. There is something that I have noticed about them. Many of them are taking their practice to the next level. And by that, I don’t mean that they are signing up for the Zen Warrior advanced yoga class, though some are. Rather, I see them trying the trickier poses that I bring to them. Just trying it. That is all that is asked of them. For instance, this week and last week, i was introducing Stork pose to clients, following Tree pose. And most tried it. What’s missing in our classes are the words, “I can’t do that.” Because each and every one of us has already done something that we never thought we’d be able to do, when we first came to the mat. Remember your first crocodile? For most of us, that was a belly flop just waiting to happen. I remember a few yoginis saying, my goal is to hover. And even my yoginis who are recovering for surgery or who are dealing with a chronic condition still find those places to back off but also those places to challenge themselves.

In order to change, one must challenge herself.

We say that on the mat, but, like most yoga experiences, we can take it off the mat as well. If we never gave ourselves a challenge, we would never change ourselves. Now, for some of us, we migh be thinking, “Hey, I like my life just as it is. why change anything?” At surface level, I would agree with that statement. However, that is not how life goes. Life continues to throw us challenges: sprained wrists, sick kids, work problems, house issues, etc. We are continually asked to change things in our lives, to make them better.

And maybe we need to examine ourselves at a deeper level. Do a little soul-searching. Ask ourselves the really difficult question, “Is there something about my character that needs changing?” And so we find our challenge.

I am convinced that everyone who is in a long-term, commited yoga practice comes to realize at some point that their priorities have changed. I am convinced that our yoga practice opens us up to being better humans, on and off the mat. It just happens, and I really don’t think that the teacher makes much of a difference. At some point, we have an epiphany on our mats, and we are changed.

In order to change, one must challenge herself.


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