At work I always make sure to have my mat with me. Any day I can, I take my lunch hour and reserve a conference room to practice yoga and meditation. My co-workers have been observing me, and have started to question why I do yoga.
Once I open up about my love for yoga, individuals become defensive and they immediately spit out why they do not do yoga.
“I am not flexible.”
“I cannot stand still.”
“I have awful balance”
I respect that not everyone wants to do yoga, and if that is truly his or her wish, I simply smile and say, ‘do whatever makes you happy!’ But more often than not, I have people around me that are incredibly curious. They express the need for calm, strength, and centering. While they ask for guidance, as soon as I make a few suggestions, their excuses come right back out.
Let’s think about this in a different light – You go up to a personal trainer, you say you are interested in learning more, but that you are not strong, so you cannot lift weights.
That sounds silly right? Lifting the weights will bring you strength.
So why on earth would you use ‘not being flexible’ or ‘not able to balance’ to justify not practicing yoga?
These personal excuses are about far more than just our yoga practice. We hear this voice in our head all day long. How many times have you wanted to do something, or be something, but you let that inner tape run over and over again, telling you why you will fail?
A big part of this has to do with vulnerability, which I covered in an earlier blog, but the other part has to do with really becoming aware of our inner critic, the voice that tells us we cannot achieve, and learning to turn the volume down.
I have spent many years listening to that voice. The one that tells me I am fat so I might as well eat the entire pizza, that no one else will love me if my relationship fails, that I am an idiot and soon everyone will figure it out… my inner critic always has a lot to say.
So great, we have identified how self-destructive we are, what good is that?
It is incredibly important, because we have created awareness.
The next time you find yourself in a situation where you are listening to your inner critic, take a moment and apply the ‘personal trainer test’. Compare your inner excuse with the strength-training example above:
“I don’t want to go to this party because I am not good at meeting new people”
“I don’t want to lift weights because I am not strong”
In this simple example compare the two. Going to the party will help you learn how to meet new people, just as strength training will make you stronger.
“I do not like to do yoga because I am not flexible.”
Yoga is an amazing way to become more flexible in your body. If that is something you want, that is something you will find with your yoga practice.
This week, begin to notice your inner critic. Listen to the advice you receive and test it out. Check and see if this inner thought is really just a limiting belief, preventing you from experiencing your most authentic life. You will be amazed with how much you can achieve once you turn down the volume on your harshest critic - yourself.
Of course, yoga is an amazing tool to help you go beyond your inner critic, and tap into your true essence. But don’t take my word for it, try it out yourself, if that will make you happy :)