I normally tend not to share too much of my own story because....
However, today I had a session with my counsellor that revealed a story that I tell myself about achievement and it related really well to using props in yoga.
Stories that we tell ourselves include our values and expectations of ourselves and others that we have been brought up with or learned along our way through life. They can be positive and life-affirming stories, but for the most part, the ones that stick in our minds, replay over and over again, and interrupt our mental health are negative. For example, you're enjoying some time with friends, the chat is light hearted and fun and you laugh at something one of your friends says and a voice in your head says, 'stop laughing so loud, you're embarrassing'. That internal story makes you self-conscious and you start to edit your responses to your friends even though none of them have ever told you that you're too loud or embarrassing. You have internalised those ideas about yourself from what you have learned about how to behave in public from all of the people and events that have influenced you over your life span. (By the way, you can tell those voices to shut up!)
My story that came up was the one where I tell myself that to feel accomplished I have to do everything "perfect" and "properly" blah blah blah! I start a new unit at uni and I have to create all the files and do all the readings and learning activities and make all the notes and have all that done perfectly before each weekly tutorial starts otherwise I'm falling behind and I'm going to fail blah blah blah! These impossible standards that I set is the story that I tell myself, it has nothing to do with the actual expectations of the university or my tutors. Another part of that internal story that I subject myself to is that I have to do it all on my own, I have to just suck-it-up and push through no matter what in order to feel like I have achieved something.
So, my counsellor was pointing out that if I gave myself the permission to ask for help and be kind to myself that I would actually have the space to let the learning sink in; that making myself work harder could probably be actually holding me back from achieving.... and my brain went...
It's like when I teach yoga and tell people to make sure their bodies are fully supported in the asana (pose) so that they can fully benefit from it. I'm always saying, "support your body so that it can breathe... a muscle that is too stretched will never relax" etc etc. You will never find any positive benefit from holding yourself in an asana that your body doesn't feel supported in. You might learn endurance, but doesn't it already feel like you do enough endurance practice in your life? Isn't the purpose of your practice to find that little bit of stillness where you can let go and release all that stuff and just be?
The priority of my yoga practise is to connect my mind, body and breath in the present moment so that I can become aware of my Self. If I'm supporting my body with my props in the way that it needs in that moment then I'm able to fully absorb all the benefits of that asana. If I'm pushing through, struggling against my body to stay in the asana I'm probably not benefiting at all, especially if my breath is affected too. What is the benefit of pushing ourselves in our asana practice? A boost in ego? Does that bring us any closer to our Selves?
(just Bee.... get it? 😄)
It was a revealing thought that my feelings about the use of props in yoga can help me to see that asking for assistance and support in other parts of my life will benefit me too.
Anyway, use the props! Don't let your stories tell you that you can't.
And if you need any help with your yoga practice, let me know!
If you enjoyed this blog feel free to comment or share with to Plus Yoga.