There are several things that assist us to be present on our mats but our biggest enemy with being present is our ego.
Our ego is the thing that looks around the room at other practitioners and says, "why can't I do that?", "how come they can bend so far?", "why can they do all the arm balances?", "wow I'm the biggest person in this class", "I'm a teacher, I can't let my students see me fall"!
We have all been there and to say you haven't would only be your ego denying you of the truth.
The truth is your yoga practice is exactly that - your practice. Not anyone else's in the room. We as teachers are simply your guide for that class, and as your yoga journey continues, your ego will soften. It may take some of us weeks or even years to understand this. But whatever the time frame, it doesn't matter - it's your journey. You are the one paving your own path. Just like life, you will have the hard days and the effortless days when you hit your mat. But be sure of this - it's called a yoga practice, not a yoga perfect!
Here I shorten a fantastic analogy from a book I read when I began teaching - "The Pure Heart of Yoga" by Robert Butera.
A 17-year-old boy hits his mat and gets every single pose perfect, while looking around the room comparing himself to others to ensure he is the "best" in the room. Practicing in the same room is a 70-year-old woman who modifies each of her poses to her body's capacity. She does not take her eyes off her own practice but practices to her full potential.
The 70-year-old woman is the one really practicing yoga as she is present in her practice. She is practicing without comparison or in competition with herself or others. The key statement is that she is present! She is not looking to better herself but rather modifies her practice so she can enjoy her own yoga journey for what it really is - her own practice.
So, the next time you practice check into your ego and see if you can start to recognise its happenings. Watch out for all the little distractions it makes for you and the obstacles it puts up, see if you can stay focused on your own practice and your own mat!
"Presence is more than just being there" ~ Malcolm Forbes
A final note from Tara
I hope you enjoyed this article! If you have any comments or thoughts, please pop them in the comments or in my Care to Share Box. If you are a teacher or regular practitioner who is currently on a journey with your ego, take a look at my Mentoring Programs for some one-on-one support to help you along your path.