How to Be Curious & Not Frustrated in Your Yoga Practice!
- the examination and analysis of one’s own unrealized spiritual or intellectual capacities
This is one definition I found, but as it relates to our yoga practice we could also add:
the examination & analysis of one’s own unrealized physical & emotional capacities as well.
Each time we come to our practice, it is an opportunity to let go of our current perceptions of how & who we are. To simply be curious about what we will find & what is possible. When we move without an agenda to do this pose in this way or to get this done in this amount of time, then we can just allow our practice to move through us.
If kept within a framework of moving with compassion & awareness, then we can find a way of being that we may not have known was possible before.
This way of being in your practice can be called Beginner’s Mind.
What if each time we came to our practice, we let go of expectations, assumptions, wanting, needing & just meet ourselves where we currently are? What would you discover about yourself? What would you find?
From this point of view we are like a child, curious about what we are doing & excited to see where we will go. We may even surprise ourselves, all because we let go of our stories & simply experience our practice through self exploration & curiosity.
Now, this way of practicing we will meet resistance, our ego saying I should be able to do it like this! or why can’t I do that? In the article below, see ways to get curious NOT frustrated in your practice.
Get Curious, Not Frustrated. - Carole-Anne Mobley
One of my favorite yoga teachers, Gillian St. Clair, used to say, “Don’t get frustrated, get curious” as she gracefully lead us into unfamiliar postures and balances during her classes.
Although I didn’t always follow the advice, the words resonated with me long after class and I would hear them again and again in my head in different situations. Now, as a yoga teacher, I find myself wanting to say the same thing to my students at times.
I can sense the frustration that comes up in deep stretches and the exasperation in tree pose—even a sun salutation for new students can bring up massive feelings of tension and insecurity.
When these feelings arrive in our asana, it’s a cue to back off. It’s a prime time to use some compassion with ourselves and let go a little. Pushing against a pose will only lead to tense feelings of frustration and, quite possibly, injury. All of this, of course, is coming from the ego.
The ego creates the desire to push harder, further, deeper. The ego brings forth the anger and, sometimes, even disgust with ourselves when our bodies will not cooperate. It can turn a beautiful practice into a tension filled hour.
It’s often said, “Who we are on the mat is who we are off the mat.”
Does this ring true for you? Are you okay with not getting what you want, exactly how and when you want it? Or do you push through barriers no matter what the cost to you personally? Some of us type A’s, myself included, definitely feel that sheer force and determination is what brings us closer to our goals, and this carries over into our yoga practice. To “get curious, rather than frustrated” is a whole new way of thinking for us.
Curiosity breeds growth, expansion, and self-inquiry. Frustration is a dead-end. Curiosity takes us deeper into ourselves, frustration shuts the door on all possibility. What feels better to you?
How to get curious, not frustrated:
1. Attend a different class than you normally do.
Do you always head straight for Ashtanga or Hot Yoga? What would it feel like to take a restorative class? Can you be curious about lying still and being with your breath rather than getting frustrated? On the other hand, if you only use yoga for relaxation then perhaps try a flow class and see how it feels to get your blood moving and heart rate elevated, without getting frustrated.
The more we vary our practice, the more flexible we will be with other things in life.
2. Learn and explore what you don’t know.
If there is a posture or a style of yoga that seems to frustrate you then make that a project. Give yourself plenty of time to immerse yourself with that one thing that seems to bring out the beast in you.
For instance, handstands have always frustrated me because I couldn’t get up into them without a wall. I blamed my lack of strength or fear of falling. I decided to find out exactly what I needed to do in order to get ready for handstands. I found videos online that gave me cues and ways to prepare my body for this inversion.
Now when I attempt them, I feel way more curious than frustrated.
3. Practice compassion with yourself.
What a great lesson it is to learn to be compassionate towards ourselves. If we can’t do that, how can we truly be compassionate with others? Love every part of your practice, including the parts that frustrate you. Be patient and loving when you try things and they feel awkward. Forgive yourself when you can’t hold a pose, or follow a flow. Laugh when you stumble or fall. Have gratitude for yourself for trying.
This leads us to probably the greatest lesson we can attain in yoga; self-love.
Carole-Ann Mobley is a yoga teacher and holistic nutrition and health coach who completed her studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She created CreateWholeHealth; Nutrition, Wellness and Yoga, out of love and respect for real food, home-cooking and learning to lead a balanced life that incorporates true nourishment, movement, and rest. A former corporate executive, she is XXX now able to live her passion of promoting healthy living and creative power. As a yoga teacher and nutrition coach, she helps people reconnect to their own bodies through physical movement, breath, and nourishing foods. She loves to cook, work-out, practice yoga, photograph food, write and try out new recipes on her boyfriend who is usually a very willing and honest participant. You can follow Carole on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
So in this time of the year, when new life is sprouting up all around us, why not look around at all the wonder & beauty of the world. With this perspective, come into your practice & explore what will grow within you if you just get out of your own way. Allow your practice to meet you & you might just find your own wonder & beauty meet you back.
Anne Cox E-RYT 500