As discussed in an earlier blog, Patanjali, who is said to have written The Yoga Sutras (196 verses and four sections outlining a moral code for human beings to follow), introduced to us the common obstacles that all humans encounter in the practice of Yoga and life. Patanjali refers to them as “rocks” lying in the path of someone who has set off on a yoga journey. We have all felt these rocks at times. We have goals in mind for ourselves. We get excited about accomplishing them. We start with a ton of enthusiasm, vigor, and attention. Then something hits us…the resistance to the goal. Anyone who has practiced Hatha Yoga knows that resistance is the very thing that our muscles respond to. It is the force of gravity, fiction, or the particular set-up from the yoga prop (block, strap, blanket, elastic band, dumbbell, etc.) We feel it on our bike in our spinning class. We feel it from the water when we swim. Our bones improve their density with resistance. But what about the resistance that comes from inside of us?
The Sanskrit word for doubt is Sanshaya. I believe doubt does not come from a good place. It is the little committee we have in our head that says, “You won’t be able to do this” or “You are not good enough” or “What will they think?” etc. It is based on fear, which is False Evidence Appearing Real. It seems that some people are plagued by this more than others, but why does this happen? Could it be that our goals are unrealistic? For instance, can our body physically be capable of doing what we want it to do? Can we achieve the goal in the time frame we set? Is there a plan “B” if plan “A” doesn’t prove to be our path? Are we doing all that we can? Ultimately this is a self-esteem and a faith issue.
I can remember starting my business back in 2012. I had been an MAT Practitioner and personal trainer for years, plus had been teaching in the community for over 25 years. I knew that this part of my business would be okay. I had previously opened a yoga studio back in 2011 for the purpose of holding my first teacher training. The teacher training 200 hour course was a culmination of many different parts of my work from decades of practice and study. Writing the teacher training for the first class was the biggest undertaking that I had done. Not only that, I did it while completing my Masters! I couldn’t believe it when I finally had a finished project. My first 200 hour course contained some unexpected drama with a student. It was so difficult to get through and nearly derailed the course. I wanted to quit. It was so much work and it did not go like I wanted it to. I doubted my abilities and doubted if I could succeed. The thing I learned was that I had to have faith that if I had this desire inside of me and what I felt was a calling, the right people, places, and events would show up to help me achieve my goals. They have continued to show up for me, in the form of friends, colleagues, mentors, and family members who have stood by me.
When my one-year lease was complete, I made a decision to open a single facility that could allow me to personal train, perform Muscle Activation Techniques™, have community yoga and pilates classes taught with my method and vision, plus have a place to hold courses. That was the first step. I signed a lease with Donna O’Bryan, who has been my rock. I was bound to move forward. Then momentum happened. Designing the space, getting the equipment, building the schedule, and finding the right people was so much fun. I think a lot of people can relate to this in their practice and in their life in general. We love it when things are flowing and growing and ideas are abounding. It reminds me of being in a new relationship when there are all possibilities. I felt I had overcome some of the previous challenges I had encountered and that I was going to make it.
Then resistance showed up again, just like when we encounter fights and problems in our new relationship. For me and my business, resistance was in the form of a former computer person, who turned out to be extremely unethical. I had to fight for proprietary information and start over with a new web company. It cost me a lot of time and money, but in the end I found the right people and the right support. If that had not happened I would never have met Kim Clark of VIA Studio and have been able to expand in the direction I have.
The other challenge that caused doubt was that I also didn’t have the immediate success that I wanted. My teacher training was still going, my MAT business successful, but getting clients and marketing was a challenge I had never experienced in that way. I started thinking “am I not good enough?” and “Can I make it?” I had heard from so many people that it takes 3-5 years for most businesses to get off the ground. I have had to do a lot of soul searching and work extremely hard. Like many, my life had been filled with so many disappointments and I have failed so many times. As many will tell you, sticking with a goal when we are afraid and full of doubt is so difficult. I have had to tell myself over and over that I am NOT my failures and that I CAN do this. I thought my career would look so different at age 45 than the way it has gone, but I have had to learn that all of my failures were lessons I needed to learn. We say in Yoga that we are practicing. Our life is actually a practice in itself. Oprah Winfrey says to “use your life as a class”. The obstacles we experience on our yoga mat are mirrors of what we experience in life.
We have all had times that we are knocked down and times when we can barely get out of bed, much less drag ourselves to work or to class. It is in these moments that we have a choice. Self-esteem cannot be experienced without overcoming obstacles. It takes courage to keep going when we feel like we cannot do what we set out to do. Pushing back against resistance is what builds our muscles and it also builds our spirit. It is showing up when no one seems to be on your side. It is continuing to move forward after a failed relationship, a loss of funds, a set-back in business, or a tragedy that shakes our very soul. I have had to give myself permission to NOT as much as I have had to push myself to DO things. Some days I have not wanted to practice as hard as others. I have had days when I felt like I needed some rest and I needed to slow down my progression. I have learned it is ok to do this and actually necessary. I have also had days when I had to make myself work harder. I have a motto that I need to do at least one thing for my business every day in the effort of growth. In the “Art of War” by Steven Pressfield, he calls this “overcoming resistance”.
Samasthiti is a word that I have heard in yoga class to direct people to come to the front of the mat and stand at attention to begin a yoga practice. Faith is having a belief in something we cannot see. We build it the same way we stay fit in our body. By pushing back against resistance and moving forward. That is what I am going to do. I look at all the people I have met, the community that my business is creating, and the great teachers that have come through my program. I see the clients I have helped and I am eternally grateful. I know I have more trials ahead and more doubt to overcome. Not everyone will like me. We all have this. The best advice I ever got was “Just show up and keep showing up”.
By: Lauren Eirk, MS, E-RYT 500, MATm
Carpenter, John. Photo Retrieved on November 9, 2014 from http://admiringchrist.blogspot.com/2014/01/how-do-we-handle-doubts.html
Satchidananda, Sri Swami. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Yogaville, Virginia: Integral Yoga® Publications, 1978, 1984, 1990.