There are plenty of times when yoga still lets me down

By my rough calculations, I — like you, presumably — do in the neighborhood of six to eight hours of yoga a week. Your mileage may vary.

In a lot of respects, those hours on the mat are paying benefits. I’ve noted the health ones. I’m generally calmer and cooler, including in crises (especially of the work variety). I may be finding a fuller spiritual / religious base. I’m definitely more ready for the end of the world.

But there still are plenty of times when yoga lets me down.*


Bobbie can attest to this, although things are at the worst during my commute. Yesterday, a woman in front of me was going 10 miles below the speed limit — like 30 in a 40 MPH zone. I finally, after a few rounds of screaming, was able to whip around her, and as I passed, it was clear she was paying more attention to her phone.

I desperately wanted to kill her. I still do, in fact, as I think about it.

There are no times when I scream, rant, curse, threaten and otherwise act like a child more than when I’m behind the wheel of a car. (And, as a note, I love my car. It’s super fun to drive… when stupid people are not in my $%$#$ way!)

OK, maybe you can see what I’m talking about. In my defense, I am talking about driving in Los Angeles. So I’m dealing with some of the worst traffic anywhere.


Dealing with family

Chalk this one up to some deep-seated samskaras. I might have moved away from home 25 years ago or so, but I walk back into the house I grew up in and I could just as easily be a 16-year-old. Single word answers to questions from my parents. Moody. Childish. I act totally differently from all other times.

Well, except for being moody and childish. Maybe it’s just exaggerated.

With the rest of my family, I’m too standoffish; too quick to let fly with a verbal joke that might be crueler than intended. I don’t think enough before acting or talking.

Plus, I’m totally walled off. You’d think family would be the easiest people to let in, right? Nope. They’re the hardest.

Dealing with Bobbie

More samskaras, I fear. After all, we’ve known each other for 20 years — back to when I was a cocky, stupid, selfish young man.

OK, when I was cockier, stupider and more selfish than I am now. The truth hurts.

Bobbie, I fear, gets to deal with my most reactive and attached self. The least yogic. The one that takes things the wrong way. The one that says things intended to be taken the wrong way. The one that is too often thoughtless and doesn’t see the world and I as one — and so the one that finds it too easy to inflict thoughtless pain or injury.

It’s the least likable one. In all of these moments, I’m at my least likable.


Well, of course during yoga I’m at my worst. But it may be because the situation is ripe for me to be at my best, so any fall off from that ideal — a loss of focus; a drifting dristi; short, fearing breath — is magnified. And if, indeed, Ashtanga is the “yoga of no” then I see those failures ever so clearly, and maybe miss the successes when they come.

But still. I’m angry at people who dink around too much. (Dristi wandering, so I see them.) I’m annoyed at someone who places their mat so close to mine, so they can be in their usual spot, even though the room is wide open elsewhere. I curse my body for its inflexibility.

And after practice, when I’m so out of it, it’s hard to bring forth a smile or good work for people I run into. For that, I apologize, by the way.

Heck, I apologize to everyone affected by all the unyogic behavior listed above.

Except the stupid drivers. They can burn in hell.

Posted by Steve

* Yes, I realize it is really me letting the yoga down.


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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

3 thoughts on “There are plenty of times when yoga still lets me down”

  1. Ram Das said something like “If you think you’re really enlightened, go spend a week with your family”. I always think of that when I start acting like a brattish tween during family holiday gatherings. Yoga hasn’t exactly “failed”me, but I’ve failed in my yoga practice and I know I gotta keep working at it!

    1. I was going to mention the ram dass quote! Love it! But I don’t interpret it as me being the problem – family just knows how to push your buttons if you let them – and many families are dysfunctional: guilt tripping at the top of the list(don’t let them do that to you either). Also speed “limits” are there not only to prevent unsafe fast driving, but unsafe slow driving in my opinion. That’s why you occasionally see minimum speeds on highways. As a driver, you are either part of the integrated whole – or it’s you against the world. If you are sooooo lucky to have no where to go and plenty of time – remember that is not everyone (even you sometimes), and some folks have real emergencies – so for everyone to get everywhere in a reasonable, safe time – you should not be going overly slow, just out of respect for everyone. Seems sometimes these super slow drivers are exerting the only power they have, kinda sad really. As a side note, david williams made the point that 15 minutes after yoga class you’re back to the same old jerk you always were – didn’t even take me 15 to start cranking at the traffic after his workshop – at least this time I realized it and stopped!

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