Teaching Ashtanga,  Yoga Philosophy,  Yoga Sutras

When Your Yoga Practice Is Poop and Lemons and You Wanted Butterflies

I guided a led Ashtanga class today. Before we started, we talked about butterflies, rainbows, poop and lemons. One of the things, that keeps people off their mat, is that they want butterflies and rainbows….all the time.  The job of the yoga practice is to reveal the truth. Sometimes the truth is poop and lemons. When the truth comes up on your mat, it is easy to run from it  and into the comforting arms of a practice that allows you to be distracted from your truth or to do no practice at all. Maybe you find an awesome feel good yoga class  or cross fit and you never see the poop on your mat again but it will come back into your life outside of the mat.  It will have another face. It will have another name. It will show up in another situation but it will come back. The quicker you deal with it, the better it is for you. The butterflies and rainbows are there, they are just hidden behind the poop. Instead of spraying the poop down with perfume, use your yoga practice to get rid of it.

Below are some words from teacher Adyashanti where he more eloquently  talks about this concept without poop and lemons. Enjoy.

 In order to be truly free, you must desire to know the truth more than you want to feel good. Because if feeling good is your goal, then as soon as you feel better you will lose interest in what is true. This does not mean that feeling good or experiencing love and bliss is a bad thing. Given the choice, anyone would choose to feel bliss rather than sorrow. It simply means that if this desire to feel good is stronger than the yearning to see, know, and experience Truth, then this desire will always be distorting the perception of what is Real, while corrupting one’s deepest integrity.


In my experience, everyone will say they want to discover the Truth, right up until they realize that the Truth will rob them of their deepest held ideas, beliefs, hopes, and dreams. The freedom of enlightenment means much more than the experience of love and peace. It means discovering a Truth that will turn your view of self and life upside-down. For one who is truly ready, this will be unimaginably liberating. But for one who is still clinging in any way, this will be extremely challenging indeed. How does one know if they are ready? One is ready when they are willing to be absolutely consumed, when they are willing to be fuel for a fire without end.




Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail shanna@ashtangayogaproject.com.

One Comment

  • Melissa

    Thank you so much for this. I have a very busy schedule and I often don’t have time to practice, and when I do, I found myself feeling terrible for my “imperfect” practice. I try to follow the Ashtanga Primary Series however there are days where my balance is terrible or I find myself having to use modifications for some poses. Other days, I can only hold my shirshasana for a breath and then I am out. All this used to frustrate me to the point where I would rather not practice than to settle for less than a perfect practice. But I am slowly learning to be patience with my body and to take my practice as it comes day by day.

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