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How to relate to our ego in yoga

A while back a teacher of mine said something that - at first - I didn’t understand.

“Leave your ego at the door - nah, I don’t think so”. I let his words sink in.

How we relate to the ego is something that’s always been a central part of yoga. And I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “leave the ego at the door” from teachers, a nudge to step onto our mats without our egos present in our practice.

Having worked with this in my practice lately, I don’t think “leaving the ego at the door” is neither useful nor even possible. No matter how much we would sometimes like to, we can’t really put life on hold while we step onto our mats.

Sure, we can (and I think we should try to) leave our plans for later outside of our yoga space during practice, but all of life is part of the practice.

Our practice is often a reflection of what’s going on in our lives. Yoga has shaped us but the practice has also been shaped in return. Sometimes it’s been more physical and sometimes all we need is to sit with our breath.

So just like we process life in our practice, consciously working with the ego is an essential part too. If we leave the ego at the door, we can’t see it or relate to it. We can’t get to know it better and learn what tricks it plays on us.

The challenge instead is to notice when the ego takes over. In our physical asana practice, this is usually when we move past our edge, stop listening to the inherent wisdom of the body and risk injury - for the sake of…what?

Oh and this process of learning to disentangle from the ego and separate from the over-identification with the self can extend beyond the yoga mat and into most other areas of life.

Because that’s the goal right? Letting that one hour of conscious work towards unity seep into the 24hrs of our day.


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