Sometimes we all tend to get lost in ourselves, in playing roles that isn't really who we are deep inside. So how come we keep falling into these patterns, over and over again? Here invite you on a journey to discover how yoga can be the tool that sets us free and open us up towards ourselves and the world around us.
Also, I would like to invite you to Yoga Games Stockholm February 10-12, 2017, come practice with me there!
When playing a role and not being me
I get so tired of myself sometimes. I should know better, and sometimes I actually know better, but still I do it any way. With a great distaste I watch myself repeat the same foolish pattern that I know so well. The pattern is clear. I play a role instead of being myself. I play the role of the yoga teacher, who enters the yoga studio. I walk a bit slowly. Not so slow that I look like a freak, but slow enough to appear peaceful and calm. I smile. Not because I just thought of something funny, but because a yoga teacher should be happy. I try to hide that my lower back hurts. Back pain is not part of the role. I feel shameful about it and routinely I go through the stories of how I did something cool to hurt my back. “I played wildly with my little daughter. Yes, that will do.” Playing wildly with children is good and fitting for a yoga teacher. It is not a lie, and it is a much better version of the story than the one, where I am overworked and have neglected to do my back exercises for several weeks.
According to Indian philosophy I am not alone in this. In fact, it is considered to be the most fundamental cause of suffering for human beings, and we can rightly see it as the starting point of the whole yoga tradition. The ancient yogis saw how we humans identify ourselves so much with our roles that we get lost from ourselves, and when this happens we get so occupied with the mental constructions that we get out of harmony with reality. This never has a peaceful flavor.
A battle against ourselves
The discrepancy between the static, ideal role and the ever-changing reality of things, keeps us busy like little bees. We constantly try to protect our story by seeking and holding on to anything that supports it, and by trying to avoid, suppress or hide anything that does not fit in. This is hard and anxious work. Often times we don’t even realize what is going on. We believe so strongly in our own roles, that we don’t even see them as roles, and the fear of loosing face is so fundamental, that often times it goes completely under the radar. The only thing we might feel is a sense of unease.
In yoga philosophy this existential feeling of unease is called tṛṣṇā. Literally it means thirst, and just like thirst for water, it is an existential unease that holds a promise of release. If only you get that promotion. If only you pass that exam. If only you get a boyfriend. If only people will sign up for my yoga workshop. Then I can relax. Then I will be good enough.
This creates a vicious circle called saṃsāra. As long as you over-identify yourself with a particular role, then there will be a feeling that something is off, and that you are not complete. This feeling will motivate you to seek for fulfillment, but naturally you will seek this fulfillment in the role, where you identify yourself, and so the wheel keeps spinning. It is really simple. As long as you look for yourself in external circumstances you will remain lost from yourself, and tṛṣṇā will keep troubling you like a stone in your shoe.
This is exactly what happens again and again, when I find myself acting out the idea of a yoga teacher instead of being honest to myself and others. And when I do my “yoga teacher act”, I am not only getting out of touch with myself, I also separate myself from others. Whenever I put on a show, inevitably I reduce others to be my audience, and this is probably the worst thing for me about this pattern. From the deep fear of losing face in other people’s eyes, I create a fundamental separation, which feels poor and lonely. It is not a surprise that this state of being is often called the “the separate self”, and as long as we are firmly focused on the stories about ourselves, we will experience a fundamental sense of separation and loneliness.
The goal of yoga
Yoga was traditionally developed and practiced as a way to liberate ourselves from saṃsāra. Different systems of yoga advocate different strategies. Some schools suggest that we retreat from society, some will tell you to surrender to God, some schools will tell you to try and still your mind, and some will tell you to stretch your body. However different these traditional strategies are, the goal is almost a 100 % identical: Liberation from the neurotic engagement in saṃsāra. This is the traditional goal of yoga, and if you turn it around, you could also say that any practice could be called yoga, which helps you free yourself from the bondage of neurotic playacting and lead to more connection and less separation.
The good news is that yoga works!! The techniques have the potential to help us let go and surrender to the reality of things. Yoga can set us free and open us up towards ourselves and the world around us, but only when we do not get lost in the role of the yogi or yoga teacher. The thing is, we will get lost again and again, and this is where we need to help each other. I have seen it again and again in teacher trainings and retreats. As soon as we dare being honest about how we get lost, then the shame and fear dissolves, and we actually help each other to get back on the (yoga) track.
Yoga Games Stockholm – February 10-12, 2017
For the second third time, Yoga Games will take place at Münchenbryggeriet in Stockholm. Three days of workshops and classes with inspiring teachers from around the world. Yogobe will of course be there as an exhibitor at the health exhibition, see you there!
Discount for Yogobe members - get a SEK 300 discount when booking both Saturday and Sunday, use the code: YOGOBE
Book your tickets here!
Simons classes at Yoga Games
Grow longer Wings
Most people think they know how long their arms are. Most people are wrong. If you know how you to work the biomechanics of your shoulders, you can create a radical reach that feels great and adds fireworks to the poses. Let us explore together.
Yoga in Life
What does it actually mean to be good at yoga? Traditionally it had nothing to do with extreme poses. In this lecture Simon will explain how yoga is a way to learn to navigate in your own thoughts, emotions and impulses, and how it is a practice to make friends with yourself and the world around you.
Exploring Partner Yoga
Practicing yoga alone in a mountain cave is ‘so last year’. Partner yoga is not only a lot of fun acrobatics. In this class we shall explore the power of supporting and being supported. Be prepared for a fun and touching class. The class will be suitable for all levels, and you do not need to come with a partner.