Friday, December 17, 2010

Remembering the Tools - A Lesson from 2010

I have been thinking about today’s Reverb10 prompt all day: Lesson Learned What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

I do not seem to have an answer. I learned so many things about myself, but perhaps the greatest lesson, and the one that fits into the Is Yoga Legal theme is that talking the talk is not always enough. I have written about this before, but as this year comes to an end, and I am faced leaving my Arizona life behind for a year to pursue an amazing opportunity in New Zealand, this lesson is smacking me in the face . . . constantly.

During these past few months, I have written more than once, even for the Reverb10 prompts, about having found my own path this year, meaning that I have found the courage to take my own path, whatever it is. Guidance from others, especially those who have supported me along the way to get here, is still greatly appreciated, but like all little birds, it is time to spread my own wings and fly.

But with that comes some bumps along the road. Just the other night, I was teaching a yoga class, and one of the women in the class shattered the bones in her toe. Thus, she has been unable to do her yoga practice “correctly” for several months. Although my sprained ankle did not ground me the way her toe has grounded her, I can understand how much it affects her. She asked me what to do about it, how to have her practice without her ego getting in the way.

Is there a good answer?

Yoga, on one level is about letting go of the ego, following your inner voice, ignoring those around you, and finding your own internal strength. I tell everyone who will listen (and many who would choose not to listen) that yoga is for anyone with any body. I believe that.

I also know that we live in the modern era. We are human. We have human emotions. Like so many others, I have pulled muscles, hurt my shoulder, and pushed myself beyond my limits. For what? To prove something to others? To prove something to myself?

On one level, I have gone beyond that - even when teaching, I joke about my limitations, show people bad form in postures, and then come out of going too deep to demonstrate that it is possible to get the same benefits without getting into the full expression of the post. But there are also days when I am a student in class, along with people who often take my classes, ad I find myself pushing myself a little farther . . . after all, I am a teacher, I have to look good in a class, right?

This year’s lesson is learning that as much as I “know” that my ego should not get in the way, sometimes it does, and that is okay!

So, what about lawyers? Talk about a profession of egos! We know that our lawyer egos can get in the way of our clients’ best interests sometimes; we know that being the best in the workplace can get in the way of our home life sometimes; we know that our perfectionist qualities are our biggest weakness (side note: in a mock interview once, the interviewer asked me my biggest weakness, and I was prepared to say, “I’m a perfectionist,” but he completed his question saying, “Don’t say, you’re a perfectionist.” Apparently, that is a common response among lawyers. Who knew?).

We know all this, yet we get tied up in it. As people living in this modern, fast-paced world, our egos drive us. Yoga gives us the tools to transcend the ego, but some days we forget how to use them . . . and that is okay.

So, while it would be great to always turn off the ego, allow our reminders (e.g., shattered toes and sprained ankles and deadlines) to slow us down enough to use those tools, sometimes we forget and we trudge through, and we hurt ourselves, or others, unwittingly. The important thing is that we learn, step back into the game, and remember the tools for the next lesson. After all, it turns out that what does not kill us really does make us stronger.

Where have you forgotten to use your yoga tools? What did you learn?

Namaste and Blessings!

© 2010 Rebecca Stahl, all rights reserved


  1. Mine was to remember that I am worth listening to and I know the answer I need to choose. Basically, stop doubting myself so much. And, with that stopping self-doubt needs to come less selfish attachment to the end consequences of my actions. Those are two of the main things that clutter my life and it's a huge step in the right direction to give them names!

  2. Thank you for sharing, shoulderache. Those are vital lessons to learn, and one I should probably learn as well.