The last 18 months have really challenged my relationship with yoga. After dedicating 10 years to it on and off, I had to take a 12 month hiatus after breaking my foot, dislocating my shoulder (1 of 8 times) and then having major shoulder surgery to fix it. I’m sure you can imagine what a blow it was to my ego when i came back to the mat for the first time in a year to find that I really wasn’t very good at anything.
In the past three months, I have come ridiculously far on the mat, both physically and mentally, and I put it down to this one simple technique. It seriously transformed my yoga practice.
I call it the “piss off ego I’m trying to get enlightened” meditation.
I like to perform it 5 minutes before class starts while everyone else is chilling out in supta baddha konasana.
Here’s how it works…
Sit crossed legged at the front of your mat. Straight spine, chin slightly tucked, eyes closed. Take three long but gentle breaths to settle yourself. Imagine your ego in human form (mine looks like me, but has long raven hair, a little like the villain in a Disney movie). Now imagine your ego stepping out of your body and sitting directly opposite you in the same crossed legged position.
A caveat: I say she looks like a villain, but let me make it abundantly clear that she is not. She is my friend. She’s helping me have a fulfilling yoga class, so I’m always nice to her. Also I don’t think all raven haired folk are villains… we clear?
Visualise your ego pulling out an empty duffle bag (mine is a yellow Sportsgirl bag circa ‘92) and place it between the two of you. Begin to fill the bag with everything you don’t need during your yoga practice. For me it’s work stuff, shopping lists, body issues, stories attached to my shoulder, fear of arm balances, thoughts about the person next to me, or that chick I know at the front of the class who I don’t want to see me fall out of tree pose. No matter what it is that I don’t need at that time goes in the bag. It’s often quite full, but don’t stress, if your ego is anything like mine she’ll be used to carrying a heavy load.
Now zip up the bag and politely ask your ego to wait outside. Mine waits on the bench just outside the studio door. Yours might want to go for a walk up the road to look at the shops. The main thing is for you to let all that shit go once your ego leaves the room. Stuff will still come up, it always does, but the raven haired Disney version of me just quietly comes in, collects it and pops it in the bag with the rest of my crap.
This might sound a bit woo woo, but trust me it works. Taking five minutes before class to leave all your crap outside frees you up to enjoy yourself. If you fall out of a pose, your ego has no idea. She/he is waiting outside completely oblivious.
This works off the yoga mat too. Try this technique in a situation where your ego is of no use. I like to spend 5 minutes doing this before a coaching session or a workshop. It’s also super handy in circumstances where you need to be fully present like when talking to a friend in need or walking into an important business meeting.
Once class is finished my ego often off gets me to carry the duffle bag home. I’ll make my way through the work to-dos, decide what’s for dinner, feel a bit shit about still not being able to do crow pose without face planting on the hardwood floors and wonder why i seem to be the only one who looks like a tomato at the end of class. But I don’t mind. At least i got a sweet 60 minutes during my class to just be me. No judgement, no fear, no disappointment – and I tell you what, it makes for a much more productive yogic experience. Namaste.
Give it a go during your next class and let me know in the comments below if it works for you. Imagine if we removed everyones ego from the room. What a beautiful class THAT would be.