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Playing with Fire: The ego as tool not tormentor

The area of our lower torso, from the pubic line to the base of the sternum and wrapping all the way around to our spine is often referred to as our ‘core’ and associated in yoga with the location of manipura and energy of samana controlling heat & metabolism.

The idea of having one solid core can be misleading; this area is in no way one unified entity; it is instead made of many muscles that work together to help bring stability and flexibility to our structure. We can use these muscles independently of each other to create a wonderful range of movements or we can use opposing muscles together to create stability – but not total stillness - Never forget that we need to breathe – and continual movement in our ‘core’ is essential for breath!

This area is also associated with the concept of ego, the sense of ‘who I am’. The ego is often much maligned with much inner work focused on transcending this “sense of I” - perhaps understandable when ego is perceived as an unhelpful sense of self importance – but, perhaps a healthy ego is not such a bad thing.

As Emma Newlyn writes: “It’s not the ego that’s the problem, it’s our over-identification with, and attachment to, the story that comes with it.”

The ego can be a powerful tool – it can bring huge motivation and fuel to fire us towards our dreams. Author Martha Beck, says of the ego, “Don’t leave home without it but do not let your ego totally run the show or it will shut down the show. Your ego is a wonderful servant but a terrible master because the only thing your ego wants is reward and more reward.”

The yoga mat is a place where we get to watch the stories of our ego – sometimes they really can rage in a yoga class! This gives us the opportunity to gain distance and perspective from these narratives. We get to see that, just like we are not our body, or not this one thought, we are not our ego. We get to see the ridiculousness of some of our ego-led ideas. Perhaps even to have a giggle at its expense.

We get to see that our ego is, like our mind and our body, a wonderful tool that we have been gifted with and we get to choose how we will use it.

As Martha “I know that I am not only an ego; I am also a soul and I know that my soul doesn’t care a whit about reward or failure.”

Hope to see you in class to explore this idea - or book a 1-2-1 for a tailored practice.

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