I love yoga.
Okay, that's a bit of an understatement: I am obsessed with yoga. What was originally something I got into to counterbalance the stress of work (and the shame in being horrifically inflexible) is now a huge part of my life. So huge, that I am currently enrolled in teacher training, which means that, when my nose isn't smooshed into an anatomy textbook, I'm attempting to create my very own yoga sequence to teach.
However, there are some parts of yoga that I could never really jump into. I'm someone who believes that all the events in the world, all the war and suffering and pain as well as all the beauty and peace and happiness, is part of a much larger song and dance. Without obstacles and tribulations, nothing would've ever been created. No advances in art and medicine. No advances in evolution, period. I'm also someone with an irrational temper (meaning someone can cut me off and I'm okay, but I'll freak out if I stub my toe or forget a grocery item) as well as constant spontaneous thoughts.
As you can imagine, this makes it hard to digest certain sayings, like, "May there be no suffering in the world," or "May you only have good and noble thoughts."
Trust me on this one: my spontaneous thoughts are almost never good and noble.
For the longest time, I felt like there was a wall between me and the rest of yoga. I couldn't latch onto the idea of a mortal world without suffering, and the quest for a good and noble mind just left me feeling more like a putz. I went into yoga teacher training feeling like, even at the end of my classes, I would still have that wall between me and "real yoga".
However, I lucked out: within the required reading included a few books on life and spirituality (including Deepak Chopra's Seven Rules for Success and Shakti Gawain's The Path of Transformation). Both talk about the multiple sides of being human: the good and the bad, the things we are proud of and the things we're ashamed of. One of the main takeaways was this: we are everything. We are all of those traits: happy and sad, altruistic and selfish, passive and aggressive, social and antisocial. We have nothing to gain by telling ourselves that it is wrong to have "negative" qualities. In fact, sometimes those negative qualities are exactly what you need: sometimes you need to be selfish and take a moment for yourself so you can be better at giving to others.
Another takeaway was the understanding that everything happens for a reason. The pain that happens in your life isn't something you should look back on and wonder how you could've avoided it, but something you can learn from -- the same way you can learn from everything that happens in your life. A life without trials and tribulations would be nice, but that's not why we are on Earth. We are here to learn and grow and evolve, and that can't happen if there is nothing for us to overcome.
And like that, I felt that wall crumble. I might not be a "peace and love for all mortal creatures" yogi, but I don't have to be. I can be all about my asanas and pranayama and still recognize that there's a side of life that can be very difficult and painful (and it's not necessarily something we need to rail against to end).
It makes me wonder who else out there loves yoga, but finds themselves tuning out when the "only good and noble thoughts" topic comes up. If anything, that is more reason for me to get out there as a yoga teacher and spread the good (and bad) news.