Blissed Out Or Really Blue?

You might think that the best classes leave you feeling “blissed out.”  Of course it’s natural to want to leave a yoga class in a state of joy and peace. But, that’s not always the case and that’s OK.

The other day I took a class where many of the poses were inaccessible to me. I felt defeated and insignificant. After all, I’ve been practicing this stuff for 13 years and I still can’t take full lotus pose or balance in revolved crow. It’s downright demoralizing.

I left the studio sulking and had to reflect on why it mattered so much for me to achieve a particular position…after all it’s only a yoga pose. It prompted me to face my own feelings of self-doubt, competition and need for approval.

It used to be that this kind of experience would throw me for a big loop; hours of anger and anguish. Now, because of my daily practice, I can analyze why I feel the way I do and what triggers get set off when my head says yes and my hips say no, no, no.  It’s still bothersome but not in the same way it used to be.

Most importantly a class like this reinforces an important lesson.

You can’t recognize balance until you’ve experienced unbalance and you can’t feel joy until you’ve experienced suffering. Yoga teaches us that everything is about finding the midline. Frequently you’ll hear teachers discuss the “midline” in anatomical terms; a line up the front of the spine or an axis from the bottom of the pelvic floor through the crown of the head. But, the midline is metaphorical too. It’s certainly not found in the depths of despair but it’s not found always found in the passions of exhilaration either. Those passions can elicit more desire and yearning and we know from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras that’s not the path either.

I certainly don’t go to class looking for distress but I don’t go hoping for success either. I go in search of finding more room for discernment, integration and integrity. Every day I want to move an inch further away from the negativity that has such a strong pull on my mind. I find guidance from my afflictions and while I immediately feel better after experiencing a delightful class, it doesn’t have the same power to transform my actions.

–Brette Popper


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