It's a common scenario: at some point after consistent yoga practice, a student will make the bewildered comment, "I used to feel so much better after yoga but lately I feel worse."
This is actually good news.
If one of the purposes of Yoga practice is to know ourselves more deeply, it makes sense that at some point we will encounter parts of ourselves that are not so... beloved. What we might call the dark or shadow side of our personality, which just refers to aspects of ourselves that are out of the light of conscious awareness.
This is a sign that the practice is working.
There are aspects in all of us that we'd rather avoid or hide, and we can pretty successfully do so during our regular lives. We have ample distraction, a dizzying pace and endless ways to numb or silence feelings we don't want to feel.
Enter Yoga, which brings us face-to-face with all parts of ourselves.
As we open the body...
as we get quiet and start to notice...
as we un-learn patterns of restriction and experience a feeling of freedom in the breath.
All those unowned aspects of our personality are Right There. Parts that have been rejected or shamed by ourselves or others, suddenly looking us in the eyes. We're bringing those "dark" parts out of their cozy hiding places and into the light.
How great is that?!
Because you're reading this, odds are you are a person who values the deep work of self-knowing and the radical practice of self-love. It's easy to lose sight of how much intentional and ongoing effort is required to live in that space.
This isn't a "make you feel better"
technique; it's liberation. ~Jon Kabat-Zinn
The magic of Yoga is that it works on us behind the scenes, like an anti-virus program running in the background.
Although we may not feel "better" right away, owning all parts of our personalities, biases and projections is the only path to wholeness.
I'm curious about your thoughts and experiences. Leave a comment and let me know.