On my mat, in my head…21 days

A dear friend asked me, as we were leaving yoga class, what I had observed in my recent commitment to practice 21 consecutive days of yoga.

What I had noticed, ironically, was the same theme our teacher that morning, the amazing Jamie Silverstein, had chosen for class; the habit of “shoulding.”

I had thinly disguised my shoulding, or transformed it shall we say, from it’s previous form of fairly harsh criticism and judgment into a series of expectations, also a recent theme in class, that felt equally shaming and hurtful.

The list of “shoulds” included:
I should be able to do these poses after two years of consistently practicing yoga…
My balance should have improved by now…
I should be able to hold this pose longer…

and yes, the critique extended to a few teachers:
Shouldn’t that teacher see that I want to be left alone on my mat?
Shouldn’t that teacher realize how shaming it is to use the word “wrong” when addressing my incorrect positioning? (repeatedly…)
Shouldn’t there by music???

yoga girl namasteOne of best friends gently guided me to a daily practice of yoga two years ago. I needed healing, a safe place to BE, a refuge from pain. Daily+ sessions soothed my mind and calmed my body. My mat became my sanctuary and yoga has been on my go to list ever since.

Fast forward to this month, these 21 days. Too often I made my mat a hard place to fall, rather than a soft place to land with my shoulding struggling to find inner peace and outer balance. Yet, more often than not I ultimately corrected my internal dialogue and flowed on, choosing to move beyond my shoulds, unnecessary and irrelevant expectation..be-ing in the moment.

I am so grateFULL for the love, grace and learning:
The teacher in San Mateo who guided class through wonderful new sequences with so much kindness and encouragement.
Live Love Flow, my home studio, the FLOW and VITALITY as well as the beautiful mantra, of our fearless leader and studio owner, Jaime Scates Schmitz, who begins class cultivating light in our minds and hearts..after she kicks our butts in the spin room.
The Grinning Yogi, Jamie Silverstein, and her fun twists on sequences that keep my neural pathways open and learning…and her wisdom on shoulds and expectations.
Restorative yoga with Chloe Dee on Fridays at Community Fitness, a must, that nurtures my body and mind.
And, of course, JL!, Jenniferlyn Chiemingo…no mention of my yoga practice is complete without the impact of her loving, supportive teaching and her special place in my heart.

As one of my clients left a few weeks ago we recapped…his success in the past week, his challenges, where to go from here…as he left he said it always comes back to the same thing, doesn’t it. Self love, self care and compassion for who we are and where we are, now.

Yes, it does…and that reminder is the gift of the last 21 days. I hope, you too, can stop “shoulding” on yourself.

Perhaps my experience rings true for you? If so, please show yourself some love, kindness and compassion, keep on working toward balance, attempt those poses; why not?! and take your practice off the mat always and in all ways 🙂


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