This Is Bullshit!

Written by: Billy Palladino, Certified Personal Trainer and yogi nubile.

“Forget this class!” I said to myself during last week’s yoga class.

Starting from the first pose and moving into a downward dog, I immediately began to feel my body and mind resisting. I was cranky, both physically and emotionally, not wanting to take part in any pose the instructor directed us into. I told myself that I needed to relax, breathe, and “lock it up.” I had come to class ready to breathe in the good and release the bad. Every week I’ve been progressing, becoming more flexible and stronger in all areas of my body- particularly in the backside of my body from my feet to my head (posterior chain) and my hip-flexors. I had every reason to believe I was going to walk out of class feeling accomplished and relaxed, but when the exact opposite happened, I was taken back by surprise. I had no idea that yoga could have such a negative effect on my mood and overall well-being.

I’ve always lived by one of my favorite quotes from author Dan Millman’s The Way of The Peaceful Warrior “Let it flow, then let it go.” So, I started letting my negative feelings flow and then let them go. I assured myself that I’d walk out of class feeling amazing, but as the class continued, I felt myself becoming more and more frustrated, and the flow of negative feelings wouldn’t stop. I felt weaker than I had on my first day of yoga class months earlier. My body felt as if I had never stretched before and my emotions felt like those of a five year old kid. I left class that day- hating Friday, hating yoga, hating my body, and feeling extremely frustrated with everything about life. Realizing all of these things about myself and how I felt, it was time to take a step back and reflect. This was the first time yoga has shown me weaknesses beyond my physical body.

Tin Man Yoga

This Is Bullshit!

Since starting yoga three months ago, I’ve experienced some amazing changes throughout my body, I’ve become much more flexible and more in-touch with my emotions. My chronic, lower back pain from a slipped disc has started to go away- yoga has been my first real relief. So, with yoga helping my agility and pain, I can’t help but be extremely positive about my blossoming yoga practice, even though I’ve now seen how frustrating it can be. Lucky for me, my profession allows me to work with children as young as one. Every day I get to see kids playing with balls and practicing sports. I often observe kids doing something as basic as attempting to toss a ball forward, only to see it land behind them. They try over and over until they finally get the ball to land two inches in front of their feet. The amazing thing about being a kid is that they have a memory of a goldfish when it comes to simple things. They can get annoyed or frustrated but that lasts briefly. When you’re an adult, something minute can be frustrating as hell, putting you in a horrible mood for days. I believe this is why adults are scared to step outside of their comfort zone and try new things. They’re afraid of not being good at something. Kids on the other hand, don’t know what failure is because they choose to not see it as so, partly because they can’t. They keep trying and shake it off, moving on to something else. You’re told as a kid that it’s okay to not be perfect at something because after all, you are a kid! But as we age, it somehow gets instilled in us that we must be perfect and not make mistakes because we are all grown up. So, I asked myself “where’s the logic in that?!” and decided to apply it to my yoga practice.

Being an athlete my whole life, it’s easy to forget how long it took me to become good at sports and training my body- it’s funny how years of practice can get wiped from one’s memory. So, when it’s time to pick something new up, one expects to be good at it immediately- especially if they’re an athletic and competitive person. This is exactly what’s happening with me and yoga. When I’m in class and see 80 year old women doing things that I can’t, it gets pretty discouraging. I’m the only one that walks out of class with a drenched t-shirt from sweat and with my legs shaking as if I had just done squats on a Monday– it’s quite the blow to my “man card” and is why many men especially don’t practice yoga. I decided that I needed to take the mindset of a child, and erase the word “fail” from my vocabulary. I’ll have to admit though, I was a bit apprehensive but as Amy Cuddy says about body language: “Fake it, until you make it!” Meaning, present yourself and body language in the way that you want to feel, and it more often than not leads to you feeling that way. After changing my mindset to that of a child or “beginner’s mind” the next yoga class I took was hands down the best I’ve experienced to date. I was more flexible and more relaxed than ever as I moved between poses with more ease, going deeper into them, breathing with each stretch and feeling empowered. It was such a great feeling to have all these negative feelings leave my body. I looked around at the elderly ladies still killing it, with me shaking, but I was completely okay with myself and my body. I was perfectly okay not being perfect. I’m an adult and I’m not good at something, and you know what, that feels great to say! Dan Millman never said how long it takes to “let it go.” So, I’ve realized that it takes longer than usual for me to let certain things go, and that’s okay as well.

That’s yoga for you – some days are better than others, but it’s up to us to see things as positive or negative- as we can choose to do with most things in life. Was it a failure, or a stepping stone to something greater? That depends on how we choose to think and that’s the easiest and the hardest choice we can make everyday. Starting yoga and incorporating it into my weekly routine has been one of the best decisions I’ve made toward my health, both physically and mentally.