Imagine having only self-affirming, positive thoughts about yourself. Instead of harsh, critical words creeping in and bringing you down, sparkles of self-love would continually lift you up throughout the day. Your potential would be limitless! You’d be fully confident in your strengths and ready to take on the world in your own goddess-like way. Sadly, as I’ve witnessed over the past eight years as a full time yoga teacher, this is usually not the case. Many of my students, women in particular, are so hard on themselves, especially when they get in front of a mirror. You can literally see the judgement in their eyes, even while practicing yoga – which is intended to be a journey of self acceptance.
To help you put self criticism in its rightful place, I’ve compiled these six yoga-based tips. They’ll spark some awareness and self lovin’ so you can stop being blocked by your thoughts and start using them to maximize your haut-ness.
- Start tuning in. Take five minutes in a quiet room by yourself, sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Start paying attention to your thoughts. Listen carefully. You’ll notice your mind bouncing around. What exactly are you telling yourself about yourself? Just observe.
- Meditate with eyes open. Now that you’re observing your thoughts, notice what crosses your mind during the day, like when you look in the mirror. How about when you’re falling asleep? Notice if you have a tendency to judge yourself for what you’re thinking. Just step back and be a witness to the chatter going on inside your head.
- Take note. Once you have started hearing your internal dialogue, try jotting it down. Seeing the negative bits on paper can help so much in realizing how untrue they are!
- Give yourself compassion. Once you’ve shone some light on your self-thoughts, you can start to practice what I call compassionate logic. For example, if you looked in the mirror and thought ‘Ugh, I look terrible today.’, first give yourself gentle compassion for speaking unkind words to yourself. Would you say that to someone you love? Your most treasured friend in the entire world?? NO!! Start treating yourself like your best friend (because you are!) – with the care and kindness you deserve.
- Use logic to solve the underlying issue. The statement ‘Ugh, I look terrible today.’ needs some logical deconstructing. Do you really look terrible, or are you just in a mood? If you really don’t look your best, what is a step you can take to feel better about it? Maybe some mineral makeup touchups and a smile to refresh your face? If you have bags, maybe you need to get some better sleep and ease up on the coffee. If your skin is not looking fresh, perhaps it’s time to up your water intake, reduce stress and get some outdoor activity. Be specific about what you perceive as the problem so you can deal with it constructively.
- Use compassion and logic together to create real, lasting change in the way you think about yourself.
Self love is radiant. It is more flattering than any outfit, hair-do or expensive yoga pants. So next time those harsh thoughts creep in, be aware, be kind, and use your logic. You’ll be taking on the world in no time.