A few days ago I received my latest Amazon order, which included a few books that I had selected from Moksha‘s recommended reading list. For those of you who don’t know, Moksha has hot yoga studios throughout Canada and also offer yoga teacher training. Since I’m at a stage where I want to deepen my practice and eventually teach, I thought it might be a good idea to see what all the yogis are reading these days. Surprisingly, the list was quite extensive! To be honest, when I thought about deepening my yoga practice and teaching, I automatically assumed that this would involve a more physical process. Not so! Anyway, from the list, I picked three books that spoke to me the most- books that I felt I wouldn’t abandon out of boredom. Admittedly, I opted to ignore the two books that I should probably read first – but we can get back to those when I’ve actually read them 😀
I opted to start with Judith Lasater’s Living Your Yoga. In a nutshell, this book talks about how we can use yoga to help us reconnect with the ‘scared’ in everyday life, and how our ability to do this can positively impact all aspects of our lives – not just our yoga practice. I haven’t finished the book yet, however Chapter 4: Self-Judgment stood out for me. Lasater talks about how often, we don’t seek comfort in our yoga poses, but rather, we over-challenge ourselves in order to conquer the pose. According to her, ‘it is not uncommon for students to berate themselves with self-judging internal dialogue during practice.’ Lasater perfectly describes how I’ve been feeling lately; my internal dialogue has been a real pain in the ass and I think that as a result of feeling ‘forced’ to practice or work out, I’ve switched off altogether. I also realized that the bulk of my internal dialogue revolves around self-judgment, and I’m conscious of the fact that I am my harshest critic. That said, I never viewed this in the way that Lasater describes it: if you expect more from yourself then you do from others, then you have the mindset that you are better, and consequently, you must perform at a superior level. This puts things into perspective for me, because when I consider Lasater’s viewpoint, I realize that I often put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself, only to achieve the opposite of what I want. This not only applies to my yoga practice and my work-outs, but it also applies in other areas of my life. I always tend to think that if I want something done right, I need to do it myself. I don’t think this means that I’m better then other people – I just have very high expectations of myself and therefore transfer those expectations on to others. Rarely do I think that someone can’t do what I ask – so in some ways, this can be good or bad. On one hand, this means that I have faith that someone can do the job, but on the other, I tend to be harsh in my judgment when they can’t. Ah-ha moment!
To liberate yourself of negative thoughts and self-judgment, you have to be aware of them; you must realize that judgment typically = blame. One of the exercises that Lasater suggests trying, is to not criticize yourself or anyone else for an entire hour. She adds a note that if that’s too much to ‘overcome’, to try it for 5 minutes. That’s quite a difference, isn’t it? 60-minutes versus 5-minutes? And what does it say about us as a society, if we can’t go one hour without judging someone? Well, I tried this exercise and can tell you that not judging yourself or others is quite difficult. In doing so, I realized that we are prone to judgment much more often then we think – little things like commenting on or thinking about: another person’s actions, lack of action, words, perspective, attire, preferences, attitude, opinions – this is judgment, and we do it every single day without even realizing it. Why? Because our society tells us that it’s OK to judge each other.
So people, it looks like we all need to take a step back and ease up on ourselves, because letting go means that we should be accepting of ourselves and those around us, regardless of our shortcomings. It means that we should take life as it comes, and actively engage in it without judgment.
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