I speak a LOT in my yoga classes about breathing. How we practice the breath and add in obstacles (postures) to challenge the breath so we can increase our concentration, focus, and capacity to breathe even when the only thing we want to do is get.out.of.warrior.3. All yoga teachers talk about this. It's so prevalent it even has a name: dharma talk. Blah blah blah, I say; "live your yoga off the mat."
"Practice it here so you can do it out there."
"Your breath will carry you through difficulty."
Today I had to put my dharma where my mouth is. Full disclosure: I had a job interview today. It's for a job within my same district, and it's a position I would absolutely love to have. I'd be great at it, and it lines up with how I see my future in education. I did as much preparation for the job as I could, got into my grown up clothes, and showed up to the interview ready to strut my stuff. I think I managed to keep my face expressionless as I walked into the room to see ten people staring back at me.
The most intense interview I'd had in my life up until today was for a teaching job in Bloomington in 1999. Five people. Ten people, twenty pairs of eyes, is intense, my friends. I answered ten questions in fifteen minutes. I remember snippets of what I said. I hope that I put together complete sentences. I am 90% sure I did not breathe from the moment I began to answer the first question until I got back into my car. Bad yogi!
So, let's go back to the practice of yoga for a moment. At some point, life presents us with challenges. Some easy, some repetitive, some so mindnumbingly tragic that we're all "Dude, Life, are you fucking kidding me with this?" I practiced my yoga by applying for the job and going to the interview, no question. In my pre-yoga life, I would have beaten myself before I clicked "submit" on the application. I had the opportunity to deepen my practice by breathing through the interview itself. Faaaail. But, it's okay; how many times did I fall out of headstand before I could stay in? And, let's not stop there: the yoga continues now. Because my brain apparently enjoyed answering those 10 questions so much today that it wants to keep answering them over, and over, and over, and over again. Really, Brain? You can't think of anything else to focus on?
Tonight my yoga "perfect" is in knowing that I did everything within my control to the best of my ability. My yoga practice is in the other half--the part I can't control. The part where I just need to wait. To concentrate on other things. To believe. To breathe.
I tell my students "Yoga is a process. It's a practice. Do your best, but have compassion for yourself." If I can't practice that myself, then the yoga is lost on me. Then the dharma is simply words, nothing more. It ain't gonna be easy--let me tell you. But, if I truly want to practice my yoga tonight, I need to breathe, put my interview suit away, turn off the phone, and trust that everything, truly, will work out exactly as it is supposed to work.