I had a great conversation with Jane Austin last nite. She is a prenatal yoga teacher and childbirth educator at YogaTree in San Francisco, and I was interviewing her for the teaching for pregnancy series I'm writing for My Yoga Mentor. What a hoot; if you are in the area and can either take a class or do a teacher training with her, I recommend it. She was funny, smart, earthy and would be such a comfort as a teacher or midwife (past occupation).
I was asking her about how to discouraging pregnant students from overdoing it and how to assure them that work was happening, even if muscles weren't screaming and sweat wasn't pouring. She says she asks students to consider why they need to have their yoga practice feel hard to be challenging. What is it about approaching yoga that way that puffs up the ego, while a quiet, focused practice feels wimpy or a cop-out.
The more I got to thinking about that, the more it seemed appropriate to ask about anyone's practice. Or anyone's approach to life, for that matter. Why does it need to be hard and crazy and jam-packed to seem like it "counts." Why can't it be fun or simple or enjoyable? Why can't the to-do list be short enough to actually finish? I know I'm guilty of such thoughts with myself, even though I find it so frustrating when students think nothing is happening in an "easy" class.
Is it the Puritan heritage of this country? Work hard for salvation? Idle hands are the devil's tools? A clear mind is scary? Whatever it is, I think just taking a moment to ask Why of the urge to add more to an over-scheduled plate is a good idea. Stop the ego dead in its tracks and give yourself a chance to breathe. I'll bet nothing bad will happen. I'll bet it will actually be kind of nice.