It is funny how ego can be built up over time without being noticed until someone pokes holes. Then, a certain “defensive” reaction comes up, and, provided you are self-aware enough, you went “Oh! Hello ego!”. Those reactions can start from the feeling of discomfort from being “threatened”, and slowly or immediately ramp up to acting up in an irrational manner. The funny part is, you may catch yourself being irrational, but you decide to pursue the course anyway.
A few weeks ago, I went to a yoga class and was adjusted by a young new yoga teacher. We went to a yoga class together before and noticed that his practice was not as strong as mine, and he possible has less experience, in terms of years of practicing yoga. Despite all those facts, I was happy with his adjustments – they were firm and helpful in getting me deeper into the stretch without feeling pain.
However, after the class that I was being adjusted, we had a chat and he suggested that I try Iyengar classes.
“Your practice is very strong, but the only problem is some alignment issues,” said the assistant teacher.
Funny enough, even though I know that I have some issues with getting into a full correct posture and that I could perhaps benefit from having a better alignment, I responded quite passive-defensively.
“I actually want to stick with one or two styles of practice. I would get more confused by differences in alignment cues from different schools,” I replied, though not really my actual thoughts.
Even worse, my irrational mind also tried to discredit his claims by also saying to myself that he is much less experienced and may not actually have full knowledge of what he was talking about. The thing is, I also don’t know his background and all, but I know that I felt better with his adjustment and that I probably could do better with some alignment, especially in my hamstrings. Also, discrediting him does not make his comment any less true in reality.
The only possibly good explanation for me to him is “My body is super tired from the ashtanga class this morning, so I couldn’t really get into the pose in full.” This is the truth.
I’m not saying that we all should give in to all criticism and comments all the time. However, we probably could benefit from investigating a bit internally whether there is any truth in those comments without lying to ourselves. We need to separate truth from egotistical self-defense. This way we do not let ego hinder our path to improvements.