So you are going through your day and your internal critic pops it’s head in, criticizing you and making you feel small. Maybe it tells you that you aren’t brainy enough to ace calculus, or talented enough to make it as an artist, or attractive enough to appeal to that hot guy on the other side of the room. Or maybe it replays a vignette of something you did or said that you regret or would love a chance to redo. The list can go on and on; an endless list of your shortcomings and failures. And you believe it, right? After all, these thoughts must be coming from somewhere, they must be there for a reason.
Did you know: that when you think about or say something and preface it with I am, there is more blood flow to the amygdala, the limbic, reactionary emotional center of the brain versus when you say I feel, there is more blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, or area of the brain used to reason and process thoughts. Simply changing the thought to I feel changes the thoughts pathway through the brain, eliminating a self-identification with negative thoughts or emotions. (Check out Lisa Wimberger’s Neurosculpting website and books!)
Theme: Just because your brain offers up a thought doesn’t mean you have to engage in it and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s real. Treating the thoughts that arise like songs in a playlist can be a helpful way to weed out what is negative and unproductive; just give a thumbs down to negative, critical thoughts and start a more positive thought instead. As you go through your practice today, notice the thought themes that arise. Instead of engaging with the downers, stop the pattern and focus on your breath, or more positive thoughts. Have a sense of curiosity about why a thought arises and let your intuition lead you to its source.
– Develop a Ujjayi breathing rhythm and keep it flowing through the practice, aligning movement to breath. Keep bringing your awareness back to the breath, especially when your internal critic starts to speak.
– Virabhadrasana I – Warrior 1. Use this strong pose to remind yogis that they are beautiful and powerful; able to conquer not just negative feelings, but whatever they set out to accomplish in the world.
– Reinforce that however a yogi expresses a pose is exactly perfect for them, a beautiful expression of their unique story and unique physic. Encourage yogis that if errant thoughts are circling in their brain – and they will – to invite them to move on their way, bringing their awareness back to their breath. Associate physical movements with positive thoughts, e.g. while in a heart opening pose, encourage them to feel their heart lift and mentally affirm I AM loved, or in a forward fold, feel themselves relax towards the earth and associate the affirmation I AM nurtured.
– Pick an affirmation that counteracts some of your current negative thoughts, like I AM perfect, I AM worthy. After settling down the physical body, have yogis state their affirmation in their head 3 times. At the end of meditation or Savasana, have them state it again, before awakening the body and sitting up. Weave affirmations into your mediation, like “I am at peace with myself just as I am” or “my body is perfect, just as it is”.