I set an intention before I began my yoga practice today to concentrate on my own mind and body during each pose. Often when I’m at a yoga class I pay way too much attention to the other yogi’s in the room. I let my own insecurities seep in instead of just working at my own pace and appreciating what my body is able to do. It’s easy to get distracted and feel somewhat inadequate when others around you are doing more advanced poses or when you foolishly compare your body to someone else’s. These are traps that ultimately hinder your performance and reduce the health benefits of joining a yoga class in the first place.

Rather than let my mind wander toward useless and detrimental thoughts I tried to focus on how my body actually felt in each pose. I tried to bring energy and balance to my mind and ignore what was happening on the matt next to me. This is not to say that I wasn’t aware of the people in the room, because I think that it’s a beautiful thing to join a community of others practicing yoga, I just made the conscious decision to blur out distractions and negativity.

By the end of class I truly felt rejuvenated, relaxed and inspired. Our minds are very powerful and we can choose to either let our thoughts be sources of unconstructiveness and despair or direct our thinking to aid us in enlightenment and happiness.

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  1. Yoga is great for so many things! Great article!

  2. Focusing in Yoga on our individual development is challenging to do!

  3. In my art as with you in your yoga, I often look too much at what other people are doing instead of what I CAN do. You are very correct in stating how worrying about others abilities can be a detrement to your own. I was once told by a trainer in at a gym, “just focus on your own movements, because everyone else feels just as akward as you do. Concentrate on the moves you are doing and feel your muscles working, close your eyes and truely concentrate on it, feel them expand and contract.” it’s a little different than yogsa, but the same principle, and it makes for much better form, and really who cares what other people think, you are you and that’s what makes us all individual and unique..

    • Rob, thanks for reading and commenting! We can sometimes stand in our own way right?! We spend so much time worrying and obsessing about what other’s think when in reality most people don’t care and they’re not judging us anyway!

  4. “Controlling [My] Inner Critic” is something I should have practiced all of my life. It’s a definite problem of mine and you’re wise to make the effort, Wendy. Big Rob, it sounds like your trainer gave you GREAT advice. I’ll try to remember both: body awareness and controlling my inner critic. I’ve tried before and the effort is always fleeting. Here goes one more try.

  5. marilyn Altschuler

    Wendy, you are so right about all of this. Our minds are so very powerful. They can help or hinder us – it’s our choice. Thank you for sharing your deep and powerful insight and bringing it to my mind again. It is a gift from you.

    • This discussion makes me think of Jill Boyt Taylor’s book, My Stroke of Insight. Most of us really can be in the driver’s seat and take control of how we perceive things and also how we choose to react.

  6. It can be like “keeping up with the Jones’s”, this is a great lesson… and a super article, thanks!

  7. Well…I don’t do yoga, but my inner critic always gets the best of me 🙂

  8. Methinks that’s the key. It’s not about what anyone else thinks unless we make it that way and, really, we’re selling ourselves out when we do that. Not a good plan.

    Thanks for your reminder. And for being you. But, then, who else would you be?

  9. I have lived with my inner critic all my life. Sometimes it has been a help but mostly a curse. I am struggling with it more in the last few months while I look for an office job again after being away from it for almost 8 years. Hopefully I can see the glass half full again soon! I love the article and I love you for sharing it with us.

  10. proud afrikan-Amerikkkan

    Yes, I agree with this article. It is always so hard to stay focused in yoga classes, especially if you’re attracted to your instructor!

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