“Ego is an imposter, imposing on the real you, making you think you are something that you’re not.” – Oprah
On the bathroom walls of Forward-Fold where I teach and film my online classes, reads: “Your ego is not your amigo.”
I have no idea what student wrote this on the wall as when the studio opened, the owner Matt, allowed peeps to write whatever they wanted. I often use this phrase in class and life. The ego is an imposter and a real son-of- a-bitch. It will haunt us forever so we better teach it its place and build a better relationship with it.
There’s no winning with the ego. No escaping it. So, start by noticing how much, how often, and in what areas the ego is running your life. I spend most of my time teaching and observing other people’s patterns of behavior and these are things you will often hear me say about the ego:
“The ego is strong tonight. What about the heart? Where’s the heart guys? Who are you making all this effort for? Not me, I hope.”
We have to expand our awareness, create a longer, bigger and stronger bridge so we can hit pause for a second and observe ourselves. Are my thoughts true? Am I really feeling hurt that I didn’t get asked to be in the naked Alo Yoga book? Is this something that I align with and desire, or is this my ego talking? Am I a shit teacher because I can’t do Scorpion pose? Who do I think I am for trying to teach yoga and create an online platform? Before we know it, the ego becomes fully in charge as we make ourselves small shrinking into all of our fears and insecurities. All of this drama is being created by the greatest magician alive, the EGO!
Time to wake up to your life and challenge your thoughts, especially the ones driven by FEAR. The first time I did this, it went a little something like this:
Ego: You can’t sell online classes. No one will ever buy them. Who do you think you are?
Me: I know who I am. I’m Ella and you shut up. I’ve been working on this all of my life. I have faith in myself so you shut it down Ego.
Ego: I don’t know what to say……you’ve never questioned me before. Fine than. I will shut up for now but I’m watching you because I know your fear and anxiety will return.
Me: Get out of here Ego. I won’t allow you to walk around in my head any longer.
I see you Ego. I see you and will continue to challenge you, while moving forward, my dear fake friend! I will no longer let you be the mastermind of my life. I will not take what you say to be obsolete. I know the ego will always scream. The heart will always whisper. So the question is, have you noticed your ego? What do YOU plan to do about it?
Last week in my classes, the ongoing theme was knowing your WHY.
Why we do what we do? Why do we choose the city we live in? A particular career? Our friends? Our life partners?
It all started with me trying to decide if I wanted to lead a Fall 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training. I kept searching and asking myself why, as this training is a huge task and I just couldn’t come up with enough answers to excite me.
I tend to always need to know the WHY of my choices. At the same time, I was very disappointed in the actions of a friend and I kept asking myself, is this friendship worth fighting for? Why would I choose to fight for this?
I had to make a decision by the end of the week about Teacher Training and I had to answer my friend. I noticed how both choices started to steal my peace.
So I decided to feed my mind the right things and see if I could switch my perception. For me, this usually means listening to a podcast and walking my furry love, Anjali. I remembered my student Rob, who knows me well, had sent a Ted talk he thought I would like, so I put on my headphones, grabbed Anjali and started walking.
Funny enough, the talk was by Simon Sinek on how all successful people know their WHY. Life is funny like that. I kept walking and kept thinking how I’ve always made decisions in a similar way. I knew at a young age I did not belong in Romania. I had to make a decision at the age of 13 about staying in the United States or returning to Romania to compete in the Olympics. I knew why I wanted to move to Los Angeles from Portland. I know why I choose to teach yoga.
So, I challenge you to know your WHY in every aspect of your life. It’s important to because if we know anything about life is that change is inevitable. Life will kick our asses and make us question everything we thought we knew.
Know what it is that you’re fighting for. Make sure it’s worth it. And be honest with yourself about your choices. About your WHY.
Memorial Day weekend 2017, I had the privilege of teaching at lightninginabottle.org
Think Burning Man with fewer drugs and more conscious awareness. I remember, before going, reading a quote about imagination. It was something along the lines of,
“Your imagination is yours and yours alone. With it, you can create your masterpiece or you can create your hell.”
We are all born with so much potential and believe we can create anything but, somewhere along the way, life beats that out of us. Being at Lib was truly like seeing someone’s imagination come to life. The immaculate detail that went into creating this magic world helped uplift people, reignite passion and drive, and pretty much put a smile on everyone’s face. It was truly a Disneyland for adults where you just found your tribe. From spiritual talks to yoga, to house music, to Meditation Lookout Point, to shaman talks, Lib had it all.
Walking around, I just kept thinking about the amount of detail and hard work that went into creating something like this. I became curious about the people who came up with this idea. I have heard that this festival started out several years back with 500 people and now it’s around 20,000!
Think about how many times people must have told the creators that they were crazy for attempting this. That they were wasting their time and money. Yet their drive and dream took priority over their fears and they conquered.
We can all choose to starve our fears and feed our dreams. We can all choose to create a masterpiece with our imagination. But imagination is nothing without drive. It is nothing without action. So get going. Life waits for no one.
Will you choose to feed your dreams or your fears? Let me know in the comments!
One of the many things students ask in class is “Again? We have to do it again?” My answer is always the same: unless you met your husband/wife/partner on your first date you ever had, than yes, again.
Take a handstand for example. A flawless handstand is a perfect balance of strength and flexibility in the body. A perfect balance of surrender and full concentration of the mind. I remind my students that the mentality of an athlete is all I know, and the only way anyone gets good at something is through repetition. The key is repetition with awareness. Each time you are trying to get better at something, you do so by repeating it. In a handstand it translates into the way you place your hands, the focused gaze, core, shoulders, hamstrings, flexibility, and so on.
In this sense, yoga is life training. Off the mat, how much awareness do you bring into your life? First, you must identify what it is that requires your awareness. Are you looking for a life partner? What red flags have you learned to observe from past experiences? Are you looking to be more positive with your thoughts? How aware are you of the words you use with yourself and others?
Whether you’re looking to become the next Michael Jordan, the next Meryl Streep or Frida Kahlo, I guarantee you that those people got where they did by studying their craft. By repetition with awareness. Better yet, look to become a better version of you!