Self-judgment and yoga are arch enemies. In my experience, they are also neighbors.
I used to be a victim of self-judgment in my yoga practice. It was a severe affliction. Any time I would catch a glimpse of my body in the mirror, I would criticize the way it looked. Start adjusting my clothing to look “better”. It took me completely out of the pose. It was as if I was no longer even practicing yoga. Suddenly, my mind knew nothing of breath or mindfulness or peace. It was as it I had subconsciously reentered middle school and I was worried about what the “cool kids” would think of me.
But there are no “cool kids” in yoga! And that affirmation was all it took to begin my journey away from self-judgment (I’m still working on it… it’s hard for a girl to most past her body insecurity!).
I have learned that I am not really judgmental of myself. At my home yoga studio, there are no mirrors. I believe this has it’s pros and cons, but is truly something special to experience. So, I “grew up “- with respect to my yoga practice – having no idea what my body looked like while practicing yoga. I thought I was the most beautiful yogini in the world (and I am… And you are… We all are)!
In reality, my “self-judgment” is just a fear of what others will think of me. I take on their hypothetical criticisms. And here lies the beauty of yoga: practitioners of yoga are not going to criticize your yoga practice. They are generally caring, compassionate and kind. They are supportive of your physical and spiritual growth. They are excited to be sharing the magic of yoga with you.
I know this is true because this is the way I feel towards others who are practicing yoga with me. I want to befriend each and every one of them. To hear what brings them to the mat every day and how yoga has affected their lives. To learn from them and to grow with them. I have never once thought a judgmental thought about the way my neighbor practices yoga. Really. This is why I love the yoga community. We are all there for each other, even if only for an hour or ninety minutes a day.
SO – whenever I am feeling my insecurities creep up on me, I will remember the words I just wrote. I will close my eyes, breathe deeply and feel the love around me. And maybe some day soon this compassionate aura will infiltrate the rest of my life. Hey, everyone has to start somewhere.