My Yoga Lollipop

Hi I’m lz and I admit that I am a perfectionist.

I guess it started in first grade when my mom used to go through lists of vocabulary words from school, testing me on the spellings, and her harsh reaction when I got any wrong was absolutely terrifying to my six-year-old self. It had to be completely right… or else it wasn’t good enough. Fear of making mistakes (academically) drove me to demand a lot from myself in my classes; I was unwilling to hand an assignment in without having put in my best effort.

Beyond the walls of an elementary school classroom, life is a little more complicated. Life doesn’t always follow a straight linear path; it throws unexpected curves, brick walls, and slippery muddy slopes at us. In life, perfectionism is a strong desire to have situations turn out the way we intend them to.

Perfectionist tendencies inspire us to be more willing to put in effort to increase the chances of our desired outcome; they can motivate us to take action to improve. But now that I think about it… perfectionism, in itself, just seems like a whole lot of expectations that we set.

Within the yoga room, expectations… we all know how that goes. We pressure ourselves and want our class to be a certain way. We want the room to be a certain balance of heat and humidity. We want our bodies to be flexible and strong and not fall out of triangle pose. And we are disappointed or frustrated when our 90-minute experience falls short, not meeting our hopes.

These expectations also cause a constant stream of mental chatter… worry, anticipation, all the “what if’s.” It’s an internal voice, like that of a clingy child in tantrum, that nags us and demands our attention and energy, unwilling to be satisfied and quieted with the emotional-lollipop-equivalent of “don’t stress so much; everything will be fine.”

Over time, though, in the yoga room, I’ve found one moment that I can depend on to quiet my mind: the final part of standing head to knee. Everything that happened earlier in the day, or during eagle pose, or during the first part of standing head to knee… all of that disappears. The mental chatter, the heat, the sweat dripping up my nose when my head is upside down… all that falls away. I am so focused on what I am doing and nothing else; I am completely immersed in the moment. My mind is quiet, every time, without fail.

I’m trying to let go of my perfectionism, one standing head to knee at a time…

(me, 2009)
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7 Responses to My Yoga Lollipop

  1. Yolk E says:

    WOW! That is beautiful, Luyi. You are so brave for posting a picture of yourself (ya look amazing, of course). And that was at the competition? And what a beautiful post. Totally relate to the perfectionist mom dinging you on the vocab. (For me it was my dad and math, but let's not go there.) I like that you articulate how perfectionism has its perks–it's a tempting neuroses to fall into, but it's probably neuroses nonetheless 🙂

  2. aHappyYogi says:

    You are beautiful!I can understand you with the perfectionism.

  3. Very very nice! It gives me something to strive for! You look very peaceful in that posture. 🙂

  4. Big G says:

    Great, great picture!

  5. I really like this post. Because, it's funny—I think Bikram yoga tends to attract a lot of type-A, perfectionist-style people. And yet…as you so aptly put it, we can't really carry those kind of expectations into the hot room with us.My moment of stillness is in standing bow pulling pose. No matter the day, no matter my mood or the teacher or the temperature, I can just kick and stretch indefinitely in this posture. It is at least one promised moment of peace within my practice.

  6. louisianagrown says:

    I can definitely understand the strive for perfection, especially when it comes to school work. I surely hope that yoga can fix that for us.

  7. lz says:

    Everyone, thank you for the kind comments! Elisa – yeah, this was at the competition last year. I didn't enter this year, but it's something I may consider again in the future. Hannah – isn't it interesting how many individuals are drawn to Bikram yoga because they think it will suit their goal-driven tendencies, only to discover (with time) that Bikram yoga is really fueled by acceptance and letting go of expectations. Lauren – totally hear you there… there is something about an academic environment that intensifies perfectionism. Trying, slowly, to let go…

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