I often start class with instructing students to bring their awareness to the breath, and to be an observer of the way they are breathing. I instruct them to let go of any comments, judgment or stories that arise in the mind. As we flow through postures, I invite them to move from thinking and doing to feeling and being.
The thoughts we tell ourselves can shape our emotions, our attitudes, and our beliefs. Yoga is a way to reshape the mind.
For example, in my attempt to travel minimally this morning, I grabbed my wallet, keys, phone and the book I’m reading. As I walked into the elevator to get to my car, I realized I forgot my key swipe badge for work. So, I got out of the elevator and went back into my apartment and grabbed my badge. I had a little trouble remembering where I placed it, and finally found it buried deep in a mess of bags and clothes. I then proceeded to head back towards the elevator, when I started to think, “what if I want to listen to music while at work?” So, I turned around yet again, and located my headphones from inside my apartment. All the while, waiting for my husband, who was still asleep in the bedroom, to call out, “What did you forget this time?!?”
I grabbed my headphones, and the thought at that point was, “okay, I think I have everything now. Let’s try this again.” Here is where it differed from other mornings in the same scenerio when I had not done yoga prior to leaving for work.
I’ve been consistently doing a morning yoga practice for approximately three weeks, and I can notice the difference between the thoughts without doing yoga versus doing yoga.
Here is what I mean about letting go of the story:
On a typical morning when I have not done yoga, and I am tired and groggy, the thoughts that form in my mind are “Tara, you are so unorganized. You always do this. This is why you need to carry all this junk with you. You’re irresponsible. I can see how this day is going to go.”
This morning, instead of all that garbage, I chuckled. I really didn’t have any thoughts, so to speak, other than thinking my husband would wonder why I kept leaving and entering our apartment. I approached the situation with lightness and ease. Instead of engaging in self-negative, self-defeating talk, I simply let the story go, and focused on the facts. I didn’t spiral down the rabbit hole of negativity and self-deprecation. The fact that I was leaving later for work because I kept forgetting things wasn’t a big deal.
When I invite students to let go of the chatter, let go of the story the mind creates, it’s just that. Awareness of the thoughts themselves is the first step. Notice when the negative self-talk happens. When you notice it happen, stop it in its track, by telling yourself NO! No, it’s okay, it’s not a big deal. I’m not going to go down that path. I choose this path instead.
Yoga and mindfulness help with this practice of stopping your self-defeating thoughts. The more you practice yoga and mindfulness, the more in tuned you become with your body and mind. You become less judgmental of yourself and others. You flow with life rather than against it. Yoga gives you that time to allow the experience to happen. Rather than reacting, you learn to take a step back and choose the most appropriate response to the experience. Yoga helps to release the default mindset, and rather, approach each scenario with lightness and ease.
If you’re ready to let go of the story and join me on this journey of yoga, drop down to the comments below and say, YES!