How to Avoid Getting Frustrated on and off the Mat
I have recently seen many students getting frustrated because they can’t get into a pose, especially in Ashtanga self-practice classes. Why is it not happening? I’ve been working on it so hard for so long! It’s easy to fall into this trap. After all, we’re all achievers. We’ve been taught that it’s the results that matter. And we bring our expectations and desires to the mat. “By the end of the month I want to be able to bind in Marichyasana D”. “Tomorrow I’ll do a headstand for 20 minutes”.
What we tend to forget is that we don't use our body to get into a pose. We use a pose to get into the body. Yoga is a journey. And being able to do a pose is not a destination. Nor is inability to do it a stopover. Go through your journey with maximum awareness. Slowly. Carefully. Look through the window and admire the landscape, rather than pass absentmindedly, waiting for the train to stop. Accept everything that happens during your practice with humbleness and patience. Yoga chitta vritti nirodha. Yoga is the end of the mind.
It’s only when you free yourself from your desires and expectations, when you leave your ego behind and become an impartial observer, that yoga begins.
You’re probably thinking: so what, I should not want to improve? I should not challenge myself? Of course you should. Getting better will build your focus, give you confidence, bring awareness. But it’s all about HOW you try to improve. How you let your mind and ego take control and get attached to the desire to progress.
But how do we avoid this trap? What can we do to steer clear of the feeling of resentment and irritation?
Whenever you come onto the mat, ask yourself why you’re there. Maybe you’ve never asked yourself that question before, yet you roll your mat out every day and put your toes together in samasthiti. You go through all the movements. What is it that you’re looking for? Being able to do a headstand? Or is it much more than that? Perhaps health? Stillness? Balance? Clarity of mind? Strength? Whatever the reason, once you remember it while you’re trying to do the pose that just isn’t happening, you will not get frustrated. You’ll know how insignificant it is. You’ll learn to respect your body and treat it as a tool to achieve stability rather than let it be the source of disappointment.
This also applies in everyday life. Observe your thoughts and don’t let them take control. It’s you who’s in charge and you can steer them in any direction you want.
So, just drop your expectations and enjoy the ride. Every minute of it. And things will happen at their own pace, just when they are meant to happen. Now that’s a promise.