When I heard that there was going to be a new yoga book released I had to get my hands on it. I had to read it, and I had to read it right then and now! Makes you wonder just how much my yoga practice has taught me about patience and acceptance, right?
So I was very pleased that I had to do only a tiny bit of begging to get Paul McQuillan to hand over a copy of his new book I Hate Yoga And Why You’ll Love to Hate it Too. Paul is the owner/director of Be Hot Yoga in Toronto, Canada. His book is being released on November 11th. You can pre-order it now on Amazon.
I Hate Yoga takes a look at how any of us might become disenchanted with our yoga practice, the difficulties and struggles we encounter within ourselves, the messages others (and society) send to us about our practice, and what happens once we are able to move past it all. It is a funny, serious, and mind-opening book that fully engages with the good, the bad, and everything in between of having a regular yoga practice. As readers, we hear some about Paul’s yoga journey and what he has learned as well as what he has learned during his time as a teacher.
Paul comes from a musical theater background and is good friends with John Salvatore – the man that tried to kill me with heat and stillness in Las Vegas. I kid. That class in Vegas was like the best/worst class ever. To quote a yoga buddy it was, “horribly fabulous.”
My references to not being so great at patience and acceptance, and my reference to John’s class in Las Vegas, are not off track. They are related to Paul’s book which, to me, said the following:
Yoga is hard. It will hand you exactly what you need on a big, shiny, silver platter. On many days, your platter will be piled high with crap. You may choose to ignore the crap, but it will never go away. If anything, it will find ways to manifest itself in your life outside the hot room. If you choose to engage with the crap, it will also not be fun but it can get you to a better/different place that has the potential to be fun. The yoga gives you what you need. What you do with it is up to you.
For me, reading Paul’s book was a reminder of the above. His ideas forced me to look deeper into myself. Getting back to John’s Las Vegas class, I know I have an issue with stillness and fidgeting. John demanded everyone be still when not moving into/out of a posture. I accepted the challenge (well, it was more like an expectation) because I wanted to see what would happen. I wanted to see what I would experience (ok..I might have been a tad scared to move too).
And while the entire class was pretty much a giant load of suck (except for the times when John would sing to us), it was a giant load of suck because it pushed me right up to my edge in a way that had never happened to me before.
In that moment, I fully hated and fully loved yoga at the same time. I hated how it was challenging me. I hated how I was pushed to focus in ways that I had never had to focus before. I hated the soreness I could already feel coming on in my muscles. And why did I hate it? I hated it because, when you get down to it, the yoga was not allowing me to by lazy that day. I wanted to be a bit lazy.
But at the same time I loved that class because it showed me how I could concentrate in ways I had never realized were possible. For a brief window of time, I had such a deep level of concentration and focus. That class was almost nine months ago, and I still remember it. It was a transformative moment.
I Hate Yoga will transform you too if you let it in. While Paul will remind you of benefits you probably already know, or have experienced, he will also challenge you to engage more fully with the practice and the aspects you may shy away from – because they are uncomfortable, you don’t like them, you want to have a lazy class, and so on. Paul also reminds us that a lot of what we hate about yoga has nothing to do with the heat or the postures but the mental aspects we must face when we look at ourselves in the mirror.
We learn to deal with the heat. We learn the postures. That comes relatively quickly. It’s everything else that we have to contend with that’s the real challenge.
Following my Vegas example, I can use the hot room to explore my difficulties with fidgeting and stillness. Why am I so darn fidgety? Why does it tend to want to happen the most in half-moon? What would happen if I didn’t fidget at all in half-moon? What might I learn about myself and how would I benefit in and outside the hot room?
You can find what you hate about yoga (and that’s not hard!) and you have a choice. You can shove it aside or you can engage with it. Either way, Paul reminds us that this yoga journey is OUR yoga journey. And, most importantly, he reminds us that this is not a linear journey. So stop thinking that because you got your head on your knee today in SH2K that this means you will do it again tomorrow or anytime soon for that matter. Stop having expectations. Stop thinking that A progresses to B. Sometimes it does, but other times A goes to D and then back to A again for a really, really long time. And it’s doing that because that is what you need. So pay attention.
Paul also reminds us that our yoga journey is, and always will be designed especially for us. Pretty cool when you think about the fact that while we are all doing the same postures over the same time frame, what the postures bring to us is uniquely different.
So tell me….why do you hate yoga and why do you love to hate it?