Practicing Yoga Off The Mat…
Yoga teachers say it time and time again, the real yoga begins off the mat. It’s easy enough to feel centred, peaceful and calm while in class but what happens when you get triggered outside of the studio?
I’ve been struggling with this lately. We have had numerous issues with the software we use for class bookings and I’ve been going back and fourth via email with my new friend ‘KC’, who sincerely apologies for any frustration and promises that “the issue is a high priority and the probability of a timely resolution looks very positive“…that was four months ago…don’t even get me started!
The thing is, I don’t even blame poor KC, who probably just so happened to be the person manning the inbox that day and is now unfortunately stuck with me. I can just see him/her wince and groan when my name pings into their inbox. I’m sorry KC, I know it’s not your fault. But having come from a system software background I can smell a polite brush off from a mile away, and I think what makes me so frustrated (and I’ll admit a little ragey) is that I know when I’m not being told the truth. Anyway deep breaths, it is what it is.
And so, you could say that I’ve been ‘triggered’. My years of working in a corporate environment (with email being one of the main sources of communication) has taught me to NEVER send that angry/frustrated/sarcastic email. Walk away, take a breath, talk to someone about it first and then start typing when you’re cool as a cucumber.
These moments are when we get to practice yoga off the mat. Most of us are triggered and raging before we even realise what has happened. It’s like BOOM! Roll up your sleeves and let’s get in the ring! Right? It can’t be just me. Yoga helps to constantly bring you back to the present moment by focusing on the breath and so the more you practice the easier it becomes to catch yourself when you find yourself unconscious and emotional.
So that’s been my yoga off the mat for the last four months, it looks a little something like this:
triggered > frustration/anger/screaming > revenge planning > deep breaths………………………… > reaction
Every time my buttons are pushed, I catch myself and take some breaths until I feel present, who knows maybe they need more staff or the right person to look at our issues, I really can’t say but stewing in negativity is doing me no favours what so ever, so I don’t explode all over KC and the crew. But it is wise to acknowledge that this reaction and these emotions were already inside you, patiently (or impatiently!) waiting for the right moment to spew out. It’s no use in pushing them down or pretending it’s not a reaction. As one of our teachers, Jemma often says “You don’t always have to wear your positive pants”
I see peoples reactions to challenges in class a lot, particularly tricky balancing poses such as tree pose, hand to toe pose or the ever popular handstand. My advice, pay attention next time to a pose that triggers you and then watch for that same reaction off the mat. It’s all linked, all the same energy and it’s a chance to choose another way to react. You are in charge of the energy that you put out into this world and what you put out comes right back at you! Use breathing techniques, get it out by writing or simply just observe yourself and be open to letting it go.
At the same time, also notice what poses make you feel good, like really good. Often these are the poses that we tend to ignore because they are deemed easy or not flashy enough; think child’s pose, shavasana or tadasana. Spend time there, linger and just enjoy the peaceful and restorative quality of these poses. This is the energy that you dip into when you have a negative reaction to a situation, these are your anchors off the mat.
I know there is a lesson for me somewhere in all this frustration and I’m fully aware that after four months I still have the same reaction when I see a reply in my inbox, so I’ve not learn’t it yet. But I’m grateful that I have a tool like yoga to help me work through my frustration at moments when I’m oh so tempted to send that ugly email.
When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out – because that’s what inside. When you are squeezed what comes out is what is inside.