For the past four months, I’ve been studying to become a yoga teacher. At first, I thought it was because I just wanted to learn more about yoga. I wanted to delve deeper into the philosophy behind the asanas (poses). I wanted to learn about the different types of yoga. I thirsted for knowledge. Now that the classes are over and I’ve spend almost every weekend for the past four months with a group of some of the best people I’ve ever met (both teachers and my fellow classmates), I realized that I was lying to myself the whole time.

It started off simply enough. I met 13 other students who all had our own unique reasons for being in the program. We learned anatomy. We started to learn the philosophy of yoga. We learned the different types of yoga and how they were different. As we went through the program, though, I grew closer to the other wonderful people in class and I started to see myself a little bit more through their eyes. We started to tie the concepts we were learning into how to apply them to our own lives. I realized that every day, I went away from class not just learning more about yoga, but more about myself.

These past four months have taught me more about myself than I think I’ve learned over the past 30 years of my life. I have had opportunities in my life that have changed me irrevocably, but this I think has been the most profound. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is how I treat myself. I’m very negative to myself. I find the mistakes I make instead of the things that I do right. I then reflect that to the people that I interact with. I’m always internally nit picking everything apart.

This past week, I made a promise to myself. It seemed so easy. Practice compassion. This has been the hardest week of my life. I don’t even think the EIT exam was this hard. Every time I started to mentally pick at something that I did, I had to stop myself. Every time I started to get angry about how someone was treating me or something that someone else did, I had to catch myself. I caught myself hundreds of times. I stopped before I just reacted to the situation. I had to sit there and ask myself why I was reacting the way I was. It was so hard to evaluate almost every action that I used to just take for granted.

Now that I’ve made it almost a week (I made this promise to myself on Sunday night), I am finding it’s a little easier. I don’t say as many negative things about myself. I still get annoyed. My husband still gets to hear me vent about my day, but I realized that the anger behind it is mostly gone and I don’t have as much to vent about because I’ve let so much go already. It’s more that I’m sad that the situation occurred than angry. I also realized that I have more confidence in myself. Since I’m not so busy beating myself up, I’ve started to notice more the things that I do right or just what goes well in life instead of just the bad things.

Goal next week? I think I’m going to stick with this one for a little while. There’s a term in yoga called samskaras. They’re the habits that we form. Almost like grooves in our brains that make it easy for us to fall back into the way we’ve always done things. Maybe if I practice compassion long enough, I can form another samskara, but this time it can be more positive.