Most of us have it tucked away in our minds, a master list we can turn to whenever the going gets tough and we feel like giving in. The list contains all the reasons our dreams aren’t practical or won’t succeed, fears we’d rather not face and insecurities aplenty to counter every ambition.
Sometimes it’s there first thing in the morning when you look in the bathroom mirror and it floats around with you all day at work, at lunch with a friend, maybe you even take it to bed with you at night. The worst part about the list is how it hides. It’s much easier to view each experience in life as separate, with extenuating circumstances all their own. In reality, we habitually combat each item on our list with a pre-fabricated set of excuses that mask the source of our discomfort.
Perhaps you turn down an opportunity at work not because you’re already too busy but because deep down you’re afraid of failure and maybe success as well. You don’t call up your friend not because you’ve drifted but because you’d rather not let them see your insecurities. And you won’t take care of yourself by eating right, exercising and taking some down time not because you’re too busy taking care of others but perhaps because you don’t believe you’re worthy of that care and attention.
The list is a terrible, dirty thing, but it doesn’t need to dictate our every move. The practice of yoga is powerful and transformative enough to destroy this list one item at a time. While yoga means many things to many people, filling roles as diverse as cross-training exercise and a path to spiritual enlightenment, yoga always contains the seed for inner growth and transformation.
Learning the postures strengthens and creates more mobility in the body, improving self-control and confidence. By controlling the breath, you gain control over the chatter of the mind and notice how the list sabotages your health and happiness. If you commit to a regular practice of yoga and self-reflection, over time you will alter the pathways of the brain so you no longer turn to your list until one day it no longer holds any power over you.
What’s on your list that you don’t want to carry around any more? This week, set aside one item on your list and bring it to class. Set your intention to replace fear with confidence, insecurity with love and worry with peace. Meditate on your intention throughout class, breathe in confidence or love or peace whenever you find yourself struggling. Then just before you get up from savasana, take that heavy burden you no longer wish to carry and lay it down on the floor of the studio. Arise and leave it behind you, rededicating yourself to your intention and practice.
In the words of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, “do your practice and all is coming.”