They are not who you expect, they are not what you expect. They can arrive as distractions or dilemmas, compliments or criticisms. Unless you’re fully aware of what serves you and doesn’t, you may follow them, wandering off-course without even realising.
Doing yoga every day has taught me a lot about my inner saboteurs and they’re a sneaky bunch, for sure. The first one I met was the Drama Queen. Squealing at the discomfort felt by being in a new position, she started to narrate all the negative consequences possible if I didn’t shift something then and there. She stridently spoke ‘truths’ about how hard things shouldn’t be, how discomfort doesn’t serve and how daily practice wouldn’t progress. She was wrong.
Then there were the Phantom Sprites. It’s amazing how many ‘flies’, ‘mosquitoes’, and ‘ants’ I’ve felt on me whilst practising outside. The more I honed in on my skin to check if they were really there, the more the Sprites teased. The more I resisted the teasing, the more they insisted. So I stopped resisting them and they are slowly slipping away.
Now there is Mr Efficient, the one who has it all down pat after the first side. Once learning the sequence on the other, he wants to rule the pace. He’s heard the alignment cues for two years now and just wants to get on with it. Yoga is just moving the body anyway, right? And the breath can just match the movements. There is little room left for active meditation as he believes prowess is pace.
Occasionally, there is the Stroppy Teenager. She can find parallel between all twinges and tweaks with some old story of how the world ‘done her wrong’ and can revel in the nostalgia of it all, if only I would let her.
None of them serve me, although they do their best to present a compelling case at the time. At first, I nearly made the mistake of aligning the Drama Queen with my intuition, until I truly heard what she was promoting. Your inner saboteurs are fluent in your languages, akin to some of your traits. They are sneaky and they are insidious. I was lucky. Once I found them on the yoga mat, I can spot them elsewhere and I can call them out now. It’s hard, but the more I practice into the discomfort of new chapters, learning to breathe into challenges and meet myself at that pace; the more I learn to honour my core and flex with each day, the quieter they get.
It makes me wonder how much they drove my earlier chapters without me knowing. I wonder how much these shifts have changed me and what those changes might bring me. And I wonder how many other people are listening to voices that compel and drive, nurture and insist on behaviours and beliefs that fail to serve the only person who can hear them.