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  • Writer's pictureSteve Szakal

Fuck Your Ego

Ego: the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.

When you first start teaching yoga your objectives are superficial. You worry about remembering dialogue, time management, and hoping your students like you enough to actually come back to your class. Once all that shit is taken care of you then need to identify a student's weaknesses, their strengths, and no when to push and when to back off. Our bodies are all different. And each student needs to be treated individually, which is hard in a group setting. A few weeks ago I talked to them about Ego. I had two advanced students perform difficult postures. Students who not only work extremely hard but are just gifted athletes. And I said that "Some of you might think you look like that when you get into this posture, but believe me.... you don't" There is that little voice inside of us that sometimes makes us think we are doing the right thing but in fact we are not. That's the ego. We all have it. It pops up in every day life. That voice is what gets us in trouble or gets us injured.

Yoga can be very strict and rigid at times. Modifications are sometimes frowned upon and aesthetics are put on a pedestal. Yoga, mobility, and movement are all non-linear. All I care about in my class is that the posture you are in is achieving its goal. Take triangle posture. The objective is to open the chest and build strength in the legs. Some students haven't built the strength in the legs to get the thigh parallel, but the ego will tell them that it is parallel and they will end up placing their arms in the incorrect position which will injure them eventually. You need to be honest with yourself about where you are today. Most injuries come about from thinking you can skip steps. You think you are more fit than you really are. Its good to push yourself but only when you are ready. You need patience.

As I gave this advice to my students I realized I needed to take my own advice. Ever since I started running I never followed a training plan. I just ran. I do read tons of research on training, running, and fitness so I always thought I could just come up with shit on my own. That philosophy sorta worked five years ago when I just ran all the time and just got lucky. I had some good race times. But over the las two years I've been running a ton, sometimes 100 mile weeks, but my training didn't produce the race times that I wanted. This is where my ego got in the way. This might seem impossible but I may not know everything.....

I started an actual training plan. Like a real one that's written out, with actual workouts in a proper order. Even though I've run more miles per week on my own. This is definitely harder. It keeps me accountable. The hardest thing is the mid week long runs. I really don't feel like running 15 miles on a Wednesday, but fuck off, thats what the training plan says so thats what I'm doing. And every time I start to feel overwhelmed the next day is usually a short easy run. And wouldn't you know, I'm running better than ever. I'm getting my speed back and I feel healthier than I did 6 months ago.

I also think I'm running better because of my students. Seeing them improve and physically change right before my eyes is pretty fucking inspiring, and sometimes a little inspiration is the thing that takes you to the next level.

Peace out...

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