Let’s Talk About Greed on the Mat

One of my role models in yoga, Judith Lasater, talks about greed. She states that greed can come in two ways. One is a tendency grasp material possessions and physical comfort; the other is grasping for success. Any acquisitiveness of more than we need including big houses, cars, clothes, belongings even advanced yoga poses. This can reflect our sense of insecurity and lack of self-esteem, I believe. Whatever it is there are two things for sure, she reminds, one is that ‘All will be lost’ and ‘it will never be enough’ to fill the sense of emptiness inside your heart.

As a buddhist born and bred I am aware of greed as it is one of the three poisons. When there’re options for donations I would go for the minimum amount to donate even though I could give me. I have more yoga gears and expensive mats more than I need and I still look for more. I have enough yoga poses to get me to the sense of peace or to ground myself as a preparation to meditation, I still want to achieve the more advanced poses and search for the best teachers to learn from.

Obviously, it’s easy for me to fall into the trap as it has been embedded in the habitual mind for so long – always wanting more , always wanting to be better……

Wanting to be better at what you do is good as long as you do that with kindness. Despite the fact that I am aware at that I can still push myself too hard to achieve advanced poses when my body says no. She also says that be aware of your mind, don’t use yoga asanas to punish yourself. Funny enough I once confined to my lovely yoga teacher friend that I used asanas to punish myself. That was the biggest insight I ever had.

I’ve known many yoga teachers who need new hips, new knees in their 50s. I don’t want that. So I tell me that Ahimsa is always the way. Love your body as it is and patience is a virtue.‘Wait until your body open & come out of the pose if I feel any pain’ has become my mantra. Still ….. I could somehow forgotten that.

The good news is that this is a life-long journey and I have may more opportunities to practise whenever I need more than I want.

Regarding to yoga asanas or yoga poses, my students asked how do they know if they’re not ready to do certain poses. I say observe your breath- it should be long, smooth and continuous while holding a pose. If not, back off or use a a prop and or a variation. There shouldn’t be any sharp, shooting pain. Holding a pose with some discomfort is good and it will lead you to the more open place in your body but your breath has the final say. Practising Ujjayii breathing can also bring you to a comfortable and still position. In Iyengar, however, your teacher may guide you to use a quiet breathing. I presume (as I’m not Iyengar trained.) that if your breaths are ragged, uneven (meaning the inbreaths are louder then the outbreaths as if youre gasping for air), you’re experiencing not-helpful discomfort.

As Patanjali's yoga sutra 'Sthira sukham asanam” (2:46), meaning that in every asana you should be aware of 'every particle of body' and asanas should be 'performed without any expressions of physical ego'. 1 That’s what I would do in my practice and I’m sure most yoga enthusiasts do that too.

In life we can know all analogies or hold certificates and have all the latest gadgets and all, and still be miserable.

If you are fully aware of every movement in even a simple side- twist, that is enough.


BKS Iyengar, Core of Yoga Sutras – the Definitive Guide to the Philosophy of Yoga, Harper Thorsons, London, 2012 (p 148).

Published by drstiyoga

I am a yoga aspirant and give free yoga sessions to everyone around the globe.

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