Practicing yoga means spending a lot of time spent looking inwards, whether it be for the goal of understanding your body and mind at a deeper level, or being able to be more mindful, calm, and kind in daily life. We gently peel off things we thought we knew, including layers of history, opinions, culture, and habits ingrained in us – in the process of opening yourself up to yourself, you may come face to face with some uncomfortable things that surface from your subconscious.
Because yoga is often portrayed as a practice with a constant upward road, at first it can be confusing when you find yourself in the yoga dumps. These uncomfortable feelings can come unexpectedly, and the underlying issue and the way to resolve it will be different for everyone.
For me, it was a range of realizations about myself that made me feel sad and annoyed all of a sudden, especially because it was at a time when my yoga practice was increasing in terms of hours, and becoming more effective. To list a few of these subconscious things that surfaced for me, it was realizing my automatic negative reaction towards my coworker if she tells me what to do; it was realizing that I was still holding onto unresolved issues with a friend; and so on. Whatever it may be that you find out about yourself – sometimes, introspection can get to you.
Firstly, keep in mind that when you begin your journey towards better understanding your mind and body, it is perfectly normal that you suddenly start seeing things about yourself that you didn’t see before, or didn’t want to see before. It is most likely not yoga itself that is causing your uncomfortable feelings.
Here are five things to keep in mind when you find that yoga and increased self-awareness has got you feeling on the lower side:
1. The journey is rarely a straight road
Especially when you don’t have a map to follow! One day you feel great because your body has opened up, and because you radiate compassion and kindness to those around you. Other days you may wonder why you can’t forgive someone, or why you feel too sluggish to attend a yoga class. These ups and downs are bound to come – try to look at them objectively as milestones that on the road to greater understanding and realization.
2. Be mindful towards yourself
Before you think about being mindful around others, think about how you are treating yourself. Are you being understanding to yourself when you can’t be the way you want to be? Do you forgive yourself if you couldn’t follow the weekly schedule? Do you treat yourself to some days off from looking inwards, and just letting yourself be? Remember that your life isn’t a mindfulness boot camp – it’s an adventure where you can stop off for a tea break or two.
3. Practice makes (almost) perfect
It is a myth that the more you practice yoga the smoother and easier the path to finding the true, calm, happy self. There are always rocks to hit. You will, however, get better at is observing the ups and downs and knowing how you look at them more objectively. Keep at it with your practice, and you will come by a way to resolve whatever issue it may be.
4. Acceptance and optimism
We can be our own worst critics. Instead of asking too many questions of why you are not on top form, accept that this is your current state and focus on things that make you feel good. Allow yourself to take a break from your usual routine and slot more of your go-to feel-good activities, whether that is having a lazy morning with breakfast in bed, taking a long bath, watching a movie, or going on a little day trip. You will be back on track sooner than you know.
5. Sharing insights
You are not alone! It took me a while to open up to others that I am feeling so critical and annoyed towards myself lately, during a time when I thought I had made good progress in being more mindful. Share your feelings with friends that are on a similar journey, whether that’s people at your studio, or perhaps your close friends and family that sometimes know you better than you do yourself. An outside perspective can help you get fresh insight, and at the same time, you can share your own insights to benefit them.
Based in Tokyo, Japan, Mona is a deadline-ridden consultant during the week, and a yoga teacher on some weekends, providing bilingual classes to an international community of all levels. While she doesn’t spend too much time making her social media jazzy, you can reach out to her on Instagram @m0namona and on Facebook on https://www.facebook.com/m0nayoga/ to find out about upcoming classes.