Change How You Think: Starting Your Yoga Practice
The other day I was chatting with students after class and the question arose: If you had to choose only one physical activity that you could do for the rest of your life, what would it be? As a person who likes to workout, to swim, to play tennis, to ride bikes and to hike, the answer is not an easy one to pick… but at the end of the day, it’s obvious for me, I would choose yoga. You might be rolling your eyes and saying to yourself, “Of course you would say that, you’re a yoga teacher.” But it isn’t the teaching that leads me to that decision, although I do love to share what I know with others. For me it’s the fact that yoga is not just a physical activity. Yoga can be so much more than just the poses and the flows. It’s a dive into body, mind and spirit.
I’ve been teaching yoga for a while now, and although the physicality of the practice is what initially brought me to it, the mental aspect is why I have stayed. While I teach, I continue to remind my students to check in with what they’re thinking, to check in with where the mind has wandered to, and, if they want, to redirect that thinking. One of the things that I remind my students of is that they are capable of more than what they think they are. I do realize that this small statement is easier said than done. It’s a simple thing to say to someone else, it’s harder to truly believe it. So it was a surprise to me the other day when I was attempting to do a difficult workout at the gym, that a little voice inside my head said to me, “You are capable of more than you think you are.” As a person who’s first thought is not always the kindest to myself, this was such a surprise to have this pop up into my head. How many times a day do we talk negatively to ourselves? How many times a day do we stop ourselves from trying something because we’re sure that we would fail? What would it look like if we were to change that? To change how we talk to ourselves? To change how we then act? I think our lives would be transformed, and I know that my journey has already started. Starting something new is difficult, but yoga teaches us that it’s one class at a time, sometimes even one minute at a time. By stepping onto the mat, and taking some time out of our busy day we’re able to take a look at how we think, how we talk to ourselves, and then instead of falling into judgement, maybe being a little bit kinder to ourselves.
Written by Laura Anderson