Why I Love Yoga… And It’s Not For The Reason You Think

by | Apr 2, 2015 | Mental Health

Why I Love Yoga… And It’s Not For The Reason You Think

by | Apr 2, 2015 | Mental Health

 

Popularity of yoga has skyrocketed over the past decade. There are many reasons people are coming to love the practice of yoga including improved flexibility, the opportunity to practise meditation, and the ability to get into impressive poses.

I love yoga for a different reason; I love yoga because it frustrates, infuriates, and annoys. Sometimes, yoga is like sitting through an 8-hour flight next to a screaming baby. Other times, yoga is the cold panic you feel knowing you won’t be able to meet an impossible deadline. Frequently, yoga is the feeling you get when a car pulls out in front of you and you have to slam your breaks.

If you are congratulating yourself for not trying yoga after reading that, I don’t blame you. So, why do I love infuriating, annoying yoga? I love yoga because it brings up painful emotions and I can’t react to them or make them go away by doing something. When a pose is hard and I feel tension rising in my body, I can’t pull out of the pose until the teacher instructs me to do so. When I feel frustrated that the teacher is doing a sequence out of its typical order, I have to suck it up and continue with the practice. I’ve been tempted to leave class many times because I’ve felt frustrated with my lack of progress or my body’s limitations and, in the past 20 months since beginning yoga, I have always resisted.

Not being able to react to painful emotions is important to me because I haven’t had the best way of dealing with emotions in the past. Previously, when I was upset I would restrict my food intake or run away from my problems. Other people handle painful emotions by turning to alcohol, drugs, self-harm, or violence towards others. It’s clear that being able to deal with painful emotions in an adaptive way is vital for health and well-being.

Over time, I’ve learned to breathe deeply when a painful emotion arises while doing yoga. It doesn’t make the emotion go away, that’s not the point, all breathing does is allow me to sit with the emotion. It stays there for a while and then eventually fades out. Outside of yoga, I’ve learned that painful emotions don’t last forever and I don’t have to ‘do something about them’. It’s really nice.

I’m looking forward to the next 20 months of yoga where I’m expecting to be just as infuriated with it. Maybe I’ll even buy some yoga pants. Maybe I’ll do a headstand. Who knows. I’m just happy where I am.