Stuck in Your Head? Removing Ego from Yoga (& Life!)

“Enlightenment is ego’s ultimate disappointment.” ~ Chogyam Trungpa

Years ago, in a Max Strom Workshop, he instructed the group: Level one, please take Child’s Pose. Level two, Downward Dog. Level three, take Plank.

I felt my body move into plank, but immediately questioned if it was where I should be?

My focus switched from my breath to my internal dialogue that went something like this:

Level three? Am I level three? What is level three? Plank does feel good right now. Maybe he is watching to see who thinks they are a “level three,” whatever that is? Great, I bet he is going to start talking about how we should all have beginner minds. Are the people around me doing plank? C’mon Michele, seriously? Just breathe.

It constantly amazes me how every part of my personality is exposed when I am on my yoga mat. Whatever is “up” for me is revealed as I move through poses and sit in stillness. Over the years, every mind-created obstacle that exists (ego, sadness, anger, resentment, jealousy, etc.) has surfaced at some point during my practice.

With that said, for me, ego is one of the trickiest obstacles to rise to the surface. Ego leaves me in a self-focused space and my connection to the things that matter are seemingly lost.

I love the acronyms: Edging Good Out or Edging God Out.

You can be certain that if I am coming from an ego place, I am not thinking of the greater good. In fact, what is happening, is that my “yoga” (my “joining”) is being interrupted by my mind—by my thinking. There is a thought that somehow I am separate, or different from that goodness with which I aim to connect.

In yogic philosophy, the ego is sometimes called Asmita, or false-identification.

It arises when our true self somehow identifies and defines itself as an aspect of the mind or body. In our modern world, this can be a common occurrence. The way we look, what we drive, our partner, where we live—and yes, even the way we practice yoga the way we practice yoga can at times become part of our identity.