Living one’s yoga is one fess up after another.
I’m going to call myself out here, as uncomfortable as it is, and admit a pattern of mine that I’m not fond of (and no, it doesn’t include ending sentences with a preposition, but see how I cleverly got around that?).
I tend to like things done a certain way.
You know, the small stuff. Thoroughly scraping out a food bowl to ensure nothing’s wasted. The toilet paper, unrolling from the top. Even Downward Facing Dog, taught and cued a specific way.
No problem there, right? We all have our preferences… until I hold others to the expectations of doing things the exact way I like them done, which usually doesn’t end well for all involved.
I didn’t realize the vast number of things I like done a certain way until I moved in with Evan last week. I’ve lived by myself (well, with Willow dog) for a long time. Enough time to develop some serious Single Girl Behaviors and not get called out on them
So it hit me two days ago that this concept of doing things “right” and doing things “wrong” is creating unnecessary conflict. And I realized:
You’re only doing something wrong if someone says you should be doing something right. (click to tweet)
Are you always right?
The most simple, mundane moments are catalysts for unhappy and happy momentum. The tone of our voices, our gestures, if we follow through with our promises or not — it’s open season when it comes to criticizing ourselves and others. And often, we do.
In some cases, we’re unaware of how our behaviors come across because, frankly, we’re used to us. Through our own lens, we’re right (well, most of the time, we justify) so there must be something wrong with them.
It’s a zero-sum game, this black and white operation of being right and expecting others to acquiesce.
I would never tell a yoga student to push themselves beyond their edge on the mat, so why do I often expect that of my loved ones?
Yoga reveals the “you-ness” in everyone else. Living your yoga is understanding that the rights and wrongs you impose on others are first and foremost imposed on yourself. And guess what? You can be your own undoing because of it.
This life and the people in yours are not controllable; this life is manifested. Everything is invited in or shut out when you place barriers on what is right and wrong.
Who or what do you want to invite in or shut out?
5 ways to curb the criticism
Your life’s fluidity comes down to your expectations. Can you let things slide, like cabinets not being closed right after they’re opened? (Again, a glimpse into my neuroses.)
The next time you’re tempted to stir up conflict, try one of these five simple awareness practices:
1. Be grateful. When something annoys you, recall something fantastic about the person, creature or thing that’s irritating you. I like to do this when my dog gets on a barking spree. My anger dissolves when I remember her morning cuddles.
2. Concede. Be wrong and be okay with it. On the small stuff, it may not be so important to be right when you’re making everyone else around you uncomfortable.
3. Ask yourself: Will what you’re about to say contribute to or detract from the happiness of all involved? This will stop lots of criticisms dead in their tracks.
4. Take a deep breath down into your soles, preferably with your feet firmly grounded. That’s it.
5. Make eye contact and really see (in a totally non-creepy way); it’ll soften things up every time. This goes for you, too, every time you beat yourself up for being “wrong” or doing something the “wrong” way. I hear pocket mirrors are making a comeback.
Changing your knee-jerk reactions to how you like things done isn’t an overnight thing. Neither is opening your side bodies and shoulders in the following yoga pose.
But these small mental and physical cues will go a long way to making certain that the only “certain” way things need to be done is neither right nor wrong. It just is.
Try it: Thread the Needle Pose
To me, the only “wrong” way to practice yoga is to completely take the intention and heart out of it. But even then, who am I to judge what yoga is and is not.
Nor should you judge yourself, no matter what yoga posture you find yourself in. Thread the Needle is one such pose that’s hard to tell if you’re doing it “right,” probably because your face is compressed on the mat.
Until you cultivate awareness of exactly where your limbs are in this pose, be grateful for where you’re at. And breathe from there.
1. Come to tabletop position with your hips over knees and shoulders over wrists.
2. Inhale, extending your right arm straight out to the side and exhale, threading it behind and past the left arm. Let the right arm rest on the ground with your right shoulder and right side of your face pressed gently against the mat.
3. Ensure your hips are aligned and not leaning to one side by placing your left hand on your sacrum to check the evenness of the low back. Plant the left palm back down and bend into the elbow, using the arm like a kickstand for leverage to deepen your side twist on the exhales. Or, extend the left arm toward the ceiling and behind you for a deeper shoulder stretch.
4. Soften your neck completely and relax your face. Stay for six deep breaths.
5. Inhale to unwind and gently take a counter twist, right fingers reaching high toward the ceiling. Place the right palm down before switching to the other side.
Your turn: How do you let the little things, like being right, go?