The Hidden Cost of Yoga

“You’ll be amazed at how great you’ll feel after a yoga class. Absolutely amazed! It’s like nothing you’ve…

“You’ll be amazed at how great you’ll feel after a yoga class. Absolutely amazed! It’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced! You’ll feel just like your same old self, only better!”

How can one resist such seductive enticements?

As you begin practicing, the first few classes are filled with awkward poses with foreign names. You’re told that Sanskrit words are important because the vibrations generated when they are spoken actually have a physical effect. OM is the sound that started the universe. Okay. Fine. Whatever.

Yup, this yoga stuff certainly is something different. Yet, there is something very familiar about it. You recognize some of the poses as stretches prescribed by various athletic trainers over the years. The calm experienced after a class seems a lot like the relaxation felt after a vigorous athletic workout. Similar calm but less intense activity prior; all the buzz without all the work. Very seductive.

You find that yoga a couple of times a week instead of daily back exercises keeps you out of physical therapy. So, for the physical benefits alone, you stick with it. Your belly tones. It becomes easier to lose body fat. It seems to help your performance in other sports.

You miss a class or two and the old aches and pains return. You get a bit cranky, just like ”your same old self.” So, you start to avoid breaking your yoga routine. As long as you’re putting in the time improving form on the physical poses, you start to pay more attention to the philosophy presented in class; the importance of avoiding negative thoughts, to be positive, to be grateful.

Months pass, then maybe a year or two. It really doesn’t matter any more, you quit keeping track. You realize that your situation is simple: continue your practice and continue to feel good, or stop, and deal with the discomfort. You’re hooked.

Unlike a substance addiction, yoga doesn’t seem to ask for anything else. It just makes you feel like your same old self, only better. So, you continue. The cost, however, is much greater than money.

You start to feel that the calm experienced on the mat spills over into your everyday life. Relationships with family members, strained for years, improve. Life is good. Instead of anger, you feel sorry for the fellow that cuts you off in traffic. What kind of life must he have that makes him be in such a hurry?

Then some very unexpected positive things start to happen in your life. Absence of constant negative thoughts in your mind allow some of your dreams that you thought were unobtainable, to come true. Sensing your calm, people become more agreeable. This yoga stuff that started off as being so strange and unfamiliar has, slowly but surely, imbedded itself in you; it has become part of your nature.

And then it happens.

Yoga gently taps you on the shoulder, and lets you know all this feel good stuff is going to cost you. Big time.

The price? Your Self.

Spend enough time with yoga and, whether you like it or not, it will kill off your “same old self.”

This will leave you with the very unsettling question, “If I’m not my same old self, who am I?”

Thankfully, in time, yoga will help you answer that question as well.

steve_suraci_headshotProfessional ski patroller and technology consultant Steve Suraci is happiest when helping others enjoy the hills around his Pennsylvania home. He’s found meditation and yoga to be an effective antidote to life’s uncertainties, and to make more comfortable a body that regularly endures the exertion of skiing. Residing across the valley from a ski area with his faithful hiking and cross-county skiing companion, black Labrador, Beretta, it is common for him to pose the question, to no one in particular, “How much different can heaven be?”