We all have certain beliefs about ourselves, and they all come tumbling out of us when we practice yoga. Whether they are in comparison to others, as a way we move our body or a feeling we have, they are part of what we define in yoga as Ahamkara or ego.
“I am good at backbends’, ‘I have a fear of inversions’, ‘I’m not flexible’. ‘I’m not putting my mat there next to that person, they are too good’. “I’m putting my mat at the back where no one can see me’. ” I’m tired, cold, hungry, depressed’. ‘I haven’t got the strength, power, ability’. ‘I am better than them/not as good as them’. ‘I don’t like music during yoga’, ‘I wish she would speed up/slow down/stop talking’. ‘ That top wouldn’t suit me’, ‘ I need to look good/not smell’…. etc etc
Ego is defined in Eastern traditions as the ‘I maker’. It is the parts of ourselves that we identify as the maker of our personality, who we are and how we define ourselves in this world. The ego is a collection of our past all bundled up into the present moment. It is every great experience and terrible downfall we have ever had. It is the part of us that compares ourselves with ourselves and others around us. It can be superior and inflated or it could show up as low self-esteem. Ego is every thought, feeling, action or belief we put out into the world that we believe about ourselves. Ego is how we identify ourselves and how we project to those around us. It is how we separate ourselves from life.
Mostly I find practicing yoga humbling and feel connected with myself and those around me. Today when I walked into class and burst to the front and put down my mat I hadn’t left my ego at the door…. ‘I am good at yoga, I am a yoga teacher, I can do everything well’. This is my sense of over inflation, high ego.
Luckily my friend the universe is always helping shine a light on my separate identity. Thirty seconds into the practice she whispered, ‘Gabrielle, you are not any of those things, I am not sure if you noticed but your yoga pants are on inside out, I put them like that to remind you to leave your ego at the door’.
Practice for today; Try a simple exercise, count all the times you say ‘I’ to yourself or someone. Are you really those things? Are you really superior or unworthy? Maybe you are the whole mountain, including the part that goes deep into the earth’s core? Maybe you are more than what you project to the world?