As I greeted students for a yoga class one morning, a woman walked in and said, "What class is this?" To which I replied, "It's a yoga class." She looked at me with a grimace ... "Oh my god I HATE yoga!"
Ha ha ... ummm ... I'm sorry?
What made it even funnier was that she continued to elaborate on WHY she hated yoga so much. As I stood there... smiling kindly ... listening - I couldn't help but think of what the younger version of me would have done in this circumstance, how I would have tried to convince her how GREAT yoga was and how erroneous she was in all of her misguided claims.
However, the longer you practice yoga the more harmony you have with the idea that you don't need people to be any particular way for YOU to be okay. I don't need her to love yoga. I don't need her to like it. Yoga will find her if and when she's ready for it. My husband doesn't practice yoga - it doesn't make me love him any less. Why would I need this woman to like yoga?
This scenario also brought to mind the book "The Four Agreements" by Miguel Ruiz. The second agreement is, "don't take anything personally." Ruiz uses this agreement to remind us that we see the world based on our unique history and the agreements we made with our perception of "how things are." Based on ones own unique history - two people could be in the exact same situation and feel it VERY differently. My friend listed above could have a history of trauma - and sitting still brings it all to the surface. She could have a rod in her spine or scar tissue in her knee or a parent that wasn't around because they went off to practice yoga all the time ... ha ha ... I have NO idea what's going on inside her head or how these classes feel to her. So why would I take her commentary personally or try to convince her otherwise. There's nothing wrong with stepping into a teaching moment - but this clearly wasn't it.
To illustrate this point I taught a class last week where we took Warrior 3 up to 7 different ways (check out the sequence here). Simply by changing our relationship with gravity and the wall - we noticed how different we felt in the same shape. When you change your perspective and look at things from a different angle - you can see how even small variances can make a big difference in how you feel about something. My friend feels differently about yoga because it doesn't feel the same for her as it feels for me or you. If I could see things from her perspective - then I would likely feel the same way she does.
At the end of the day - the most beautiful thing about this approach is that it sets you free from unnecessary drama. There is incredible freedom in relaxing your expectations around others and allowing them to be as they are until they are ready for change on their own accord. It also sets you free to be YOU without needing to justify yourself to others.
As one of my greatest teachers said, "You have nothing to prove and nothing to defend." Remember that next time someone sees the world differently than you do.
Follow On: A friend was in class this week and ended up traveling home to see her family. She texted me that her family was going through some challenges where skeletons were falling out of closets - and that keeping her perspective was hard but helping her not spiral into the drama. Yay friend!