Does Your Ego Control You?
Today I woke up feeling good, but tired. Normally I seem to wake up quite easily and can get into things but today was different and I wasn’t sure why. We started our practice with breathing, pranayama, exercises and I began feeling really light headed. Strange. I continued through the next 10 minutes of warm up with basic sun salutations, however every time I stood up I felt like I was going to pass out. Maybe I’m just super tired? Very strange. After another few minutes I ended up having to go to the back of the class and just watch the rest of the practice.
What’s very interesting is that watching out 2 hour 45 minute practice seemed to go by incredibly quick, whereas when you are actually in it, the time barely moves (most days anyways). It was fascinating to be able to sit back and see the way Everett teaches, his cues, and how he watches the students. It was also nice to be able to watch the other students and which ones would do every single pose and never quit because of their ego saying they couldn’t, versus those who took a small break when needed.
One thing we all have is the Ego. In ‘yoga language’ it’s called Ahamkara, and it’s both a good and bad thing but only when you can learn to control it, rather than it controlling you. You know that it’s your ego speaking up when you become attached to things and this can mean everything from possessions, thoughts, feelings, to old memories, behaviors. It’s not just about material things. The ego makes us act in crazy ways and tells us that we cannot do without that certain thing. How many of you would be heart broken if you lost all of your photos on your phone and laptop from the day you were born until now? Would you be upset if your best friend decided she no longer wanted to be friends anymore? Would you be sad if you were never able to eat your favorite meal again?
These are all things that ahamkara controls. It’s the thoughts that we NEED something and cannot live without it. It’s also the thoughts that you won’t quit no matter how much you are struggling. One of the beautiful things about yoga is that it teaches you to let go of the ego and allow life to ground you. I mention all of this because as I sat in the back of the class, I noticed how often I have stayed in a yoga pose or tried to do one that I absolutely know I couldn’t do as a beginner because I wanted to show off.
How many times do you go into a yoga class and try to do every pose? Or are you the type of person that can step back and know that you are not yet able to do headstand, instead watching and applauding (silently of course) others who are doing it. Does it make you full of joy when you see someone else doing a pose you cannot yet do, or does it make you resentful? Learning to let go of the ego and be happy for others when you cannot have something that your mind wants is one of the goals of yoga. It teaches you that leaving the ego at the door and learn that sometimes the things you want are not what is best for you at that moment. Just because someone else has something or can do a pose that you cannot do (hello handstands! For those of you who have been following the blog…), that it’s okay and it’s more important for you to show encouragement to others for these things.
All of this was floating through my mind as I watched half the class stay in poses that were absolutely killing them. They stopped breathing and were not enjoying it. That is the ego. Everett later said that this class was to challenge everyone mentally to see who could let go of their ego. He held Warrior III until more than 50% of the class dropped out, and goodness me there were a few people who absolutely stayed in the pose to show off.
I’m glad I didn’t participate today because one, I felt horrific but really two, it allowed me to see an understand more about the ego. The ego is something that I’ve battled for many, many years of my life. Starting at school and always wanting to be project leaders so things were done “perfectly” in my eyes, to competing with other models and wanting to get better and better jobs, to not being able to do a handstand and getting upset about it. While I did come here to learn how to teach yoga, I really came to learn more about myself, self-love, and how to see the world in a more beautiful way. I’m truly valuing every single moment here, because although tough and many times I want to give up, I’m learning SO much about human nature, the ego, how to be happy, and what it means to truly learn about life.
On a side note, the reason I wasn’t feeling good was because of the antibiotics I was taking. Now I’m not really for antibiotics, but I am a believer in a beautiful mix of eastern and western medicine. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really able to do much of eastern medicine in my case of bronchitis (or so I thought it was) because there wasn’t so much available on this tiny little island. Everett and Katherine gave me an incredibly strong dose of the medicine and because it’s a 3-day course it made me feel awful for one day, probably because I’m not used to taking them. On a side note though, it absolutely kicked the cough that had been disrupting my life for the past two weeks. Nothing like trying to do breathing exercises, meditation and our favorite pose, savasana and being brought out of it by constant coughing.
All good now. Especially because we are half way through the course. It’s bittersweet for sure!
With Love, Nikki