Why I Removed the Word "Push" from My Yoga Practice

by - 4:25 PM

One of my greatest struggles coming into yoga has been finding “the edge” in my practice. I attacked yoga like a sport – track, volleyball, running – and I ended up hurting myself in the process.

Yes, I got hurt doing yoga. That is a thing. It is a very real consequence of not listening to your body, silencing your internal teacher while also having a misguided sense of the POINT of the practice. This last part is crucial. 


I am sharing this with you because I know many of you, like myself, are competitive people. Yoga is not a competition – it is a practice. This concept has finally started to resonate with me, but it took awhile. Aren’t we always practicing for SOMETHING? A game, a meet, a show?

I grew up in competition, pushing myself and my body to the point of pain time and time again, and then through it for higher, more desired outcomes. I associated pain with success.


“Push through the pain.” “Feel the burn.” “No pain, no gain.” 

Yoga was the same I thought. In order to “achieve” the postures, the advanced asanas, I just had to push and practice, push and practice.

 But I got caught up in it.

Now, the funny thing is, I listened to my body. I knew exactly what was going on. But over the years of conditioning my body through intense exercise, I had also conditioned my brain to disregard that voice that said “Hey are you sure you want to be doing this, it’s kind of hard and I’m not sure I like it…”

“It’s fine, you’ll like it when we’re done. You’ll be the fastest. It’s worth it. One more mile. PUSH.” 


It only took me about 3 days of meditating in Bali to realize I needed to remove the word “push” from my practice. (Journaling after meditation – highly recommended).

Not that it’s bad to push – you need to encourage your body to try things, to hold poses for longer than you may think you want to hold them. I was just able to realize and accept the fact that I am simply not strong enough mentally – yet - to be able to do this in a mindful and loving way. 

Years and years of conditioning my body to override my brain. You’re not “feeling” the sprint workout today? Too bad. Do it, and do it hard. If you don’t, you will get pulled aside and asked why you are half-assing… Why aren’t you showing leadership and leading the pack?…You threw up after 40/40s? Good, it means you pushed yourself...one more rep, one more bruise, one more hurdle. (Ok so I may have had kind of an intense track experience).


Intense enough to the point where I competed for an entire season with a stress fracture in my jumping foot. It wasn’t until I literally fell out of bed one morning in college because I couldn’t put weight on my foot, that I realized anything was wrong. My roommate picked me up, looked me in the eyes and said, “It’s time to see Dr. Daley.” (Much love and gratitude rooms).

These experiences – while common and natural to elite sports training – did not translate appropriately when I began practicing yoga. Yoga is different. Which you can say to someone like me a million times til Sunday and I still won’t GET it.

Yoga is different.
(I know)

But really, we shouldn’t do this firelog pose. I don’t think you’re there yet.
(Oh I’m there, I can be there. See? My hips are open. Firelog. Check.)

Check.

There are a few specific types of yoga – one that starts with an A and the other that starts with a B – that I am mentally not strong enough to practice yet. These types of yoga focus on perfection and progression of postures, or asanas, that I quite frankly believe some people’s bodies will never be able to achieve because they aren’t built that way.

Some will find these postures easily. Some people can handle this striving to perfect the pose, some can find comfort in the similarity of the sequence and that is kick-ass awesome for them. I am just not one of those people. Not yet at least.


So until then, I will focus on my love for the practice, for myself, to be mindful and loving to my body and know there is nowhere to get, nowhere to go. The practice is about the journey. And remembering that journey when you finally DO rock that crow to handstand, for the first time in the middle of the room, with no props – and remembering all of the times you got excited along the way.

And then teaching others how to find the feeling themselves. This is my yoga.

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