The Ego on my Shoulder

Teacher Training is slowly carving out some new grooves of habit into my life, and simultaneously squeezing out some other activities. I realized that I hadn’t been to an advanced vinyasa class in a few weeks (I feel increasing pressure to attend beginner classes exclusively), so I made a point of attending Tabu’s notoriously ass-kicking “C2” (as we call it at CPY) with a good friend of mine (new to CP, her first Tabu class ever…).

The breath comes first; everything else is just details.
The breath comes first; everything else is just embellishment.

For those of you external to the San Diego yoga circuit, Tabu is a charismatic yoga teacher/personal trainer with a cult-like following due to his tough classes and his salty meets sweet demeanor. It’s not uncommon for Tabu to get sassy in class and give a piece of his mind to people that don’t adhere to his class rules… You either love him or you avoid his classes entirely. Like a moth to a flame, I find myself gravitating towards these power classes to test my limits and get a good ol’ fashioned workout in, although I’ve met a few yogis who think Tabu’s creative transitions and assertive style of teaching is “basically not yoga”. Whatevs.

Throughout the class, I sailed through transitions on my breath, sending oxygen to the fire building in my quads and calves during a particularly long Eagle pose. I grinned as my friend shot me looks of disbelief as Tabu demonstrated Half Crow, inviting us to try the pose on. I live for these moments of depth and the internalized struggle that it takes to reach some extreme physical postures, and I consider this sweaty, vibrant C2 to be an integral part of my practice.

The physical aspect, while totally challenging, isn’t the most difficult element to master in Tabu’s class: it’s my ego, pushing me into the fullest extension of every pose, even when it doesn’t exactly serve me. Tabu, an unconventionally aggressive yoga teacher, has a way of making me feel like mindfully holding back from a posture is failure. For example, generally tripod headstands aren’t in my practice, because it really hurts the crown of my head and I don’t feel great in them. However, despite my knowledge of this limitation, I continue to pop up into headstands in Tabu’s class because I don’t want him to think I’m being a “quitter”. This has been such a good mental exercise for me, and a strong reminder to reevaluate my ego once in a while. Pressing into a headstand isn’t going to help me accomplish anything- it’s not fear that’s holding me back in this pose, it’s pain. Who am I serving by dismissing my body’s needs and letting external factors dictate my practice?


On a larger level that transcends my asana practice: What is truly driving my actions: others’ expectations of me, or the conviction necessary to forge my own path? C2 with Tabu is now an exercise in balance- drawing strength and being brave when it’ll help me grow (trying to kick into a handstand in class, or dropping a little deeper into that Chair Pose after 30 seconds of gnarly quad burning), but holding back in order to be a little kinder to my body.

It’s not Tabu that’s making me feel like a failure if I don’t float into some insane version of Koundinyasana 4b AKA The Gauntlet that I might’ve seen on Instagram (#yogaeverydamnday) … it’s my ego, testing my resolve and pulling me out of a space that is best kept internal. Yoga, for me, is about introspection and shutting out the noise of my external world so that I can tune into something deeper- it’s not about getting my leg up higher, it’s about being honest with myself and enjoying the flow.

So, here I am, 5 years into my practice and still reminding myself of Step 1: Check your ego at the door.

Yes, that is a beer on my mat. Namaste.
Yes, that is a beer on my mat. Namaste.

1 Comment

  1. A look of disbelief may have been a bit of an understatement. I was just looking for the door. But glad you made me go. Good for my ego too.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s