I've been teaching twice-weekly yoga classes for a group of students in Round Rock ISD since the start of this school year. This week we changed up our routine and had a class just for the girls, and we had a really interesting discussion that I'd like to share with you. My intention for the class was to show the girls how consistent yoga practice can help them find their self-confidence, self-worth, and self-respect. We started with a journaling exercise where I asked them to draw or write about their favorite activity.
They journaled about how they enjoy spending time with friends and family, pets, their love of dancing, music, etc. I asked them to reflect on how they FEEL when they do this favorite activity, and in their own ways they communicated that they feel self-assured, confident, content, and they don't worry about what anyone else thinks about them.
I told them that THAT feeling is how I'd like for them to feel ALL the time. And that same feeling of confidence, self-assuredness, and contentedness can be practiced and cultivated in our yoga classes.
I was about to mentally pat myself on the back for a job well done, when one of the staff members (who herself practices yoga regularly) asked me HOW yoga does that. She explained that she had felt that shift to being more tuned in to herself and more self-confident, but she didn't really know HOW it happened.
Well, good question. And off the top of my head, I really didn't have a good answer. Here's what I came up with...
When we first start practicing yoga, we're "in our heads." We worry that our yoga poses look dorky. We worry that everyone else in class is mentally making fun of our sorry attempts at the yoga poses. Of course, in reality everyone is so focused on their own practice that they don't notice what anyone else is doing.
And then after some period of consistent practice (with a good teacher who regularly cues the students to tune into the details of how their bodies are feeling), how our poses LOOK suddenly becomes irrelevant. We don't care what anybody thinks of our poses because we're confident about how our poses FEEL.
We let go of what we THINK we know in our minds because we are confident about what we FEEL in our bodies.
And somehow, this confidence in what we feel, this inner knowledge, translates off our mats and into our regular lives. Suddenly our preoccupation with image and what everybody thinks just falls away. We honor ourselves and our truths, and we honor our friends and acquaintances and their truths. We're less fearful. We're more confident.
That's my best explanation. I'm sure there must be a more scientific reason for this magical shift that happens when people practice yoga regularly. You may even have a better explanation than mine.
I would really love to hear from you on this. Have you experienced this kind of transformation since you began practicing yoga? What exactly have you noticed? Can you put your finger on how it happened? Please post your thoughts where ever it's most convenient for you - in the Comments section below or on our Facebook post.
Big hugs, Zelinda
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