Only Positive Thoughts on the Mat

Today I want to talk about a self-improvement technique that yoga started me on: positive self-talk. We all treat other people so much better than we treat ourselves, and that is just not right. It is something that I have been working on for a long time, with varying levels of success.

I am doing better with it, but it is can be hard to shut out that negative voice in my head sometimes. I am really good at negative self-talk. Maybe you are as well and you hear it too. Not my negative voice, obviously, that would be weird, but your own Negative Nasty who is always talking to you about how worthless you are or what dumb thing you did three years ago that you still haven’t let go of.

You know, that voice that keeps you up at night reviewing every embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while you’re trying to sleep? Yes, that’s the one. I hate that voice. That voice is mean.

I have, through my time in therapy, found the ability to talk to myself a little more kindly. And that’s been going ok. My therapist has taught me a few techniques to help bring my thoughts back on track and to find ways to stop the voice from causing my emotions to spiral downward. They work but they don’t necessarily stop the voice from expressing an opinion in the first place.

Yoga seems to help stop the voice in its tracks, though. For some reason, it keeps the stupid voice at bay. Sometimes when I am doing an especially difficult pose or I’m maintaining my balance really well, or even when I’m even doing a little better in a specific pose than I ever have before, I even hear a positive comment.

So I’ve instituted a policy: only positive thoughts on my yoga mat. If I fall out of a pose or somebody nearby is doing it better than me, I remind myself to be gentle and find something to be positive about. Any other activity and the voice would be telling me how much I suck or how everyone hates me and thinks I am bringing the whole class down. But yoga, on the other hand, has managed to keep me sane AND kind to myself.

It actually is not all that hard to do once I got used to it. I see the muscles in my arm tighten while trying to hold myself up and think, look how strong you are! Or I do a forward fold and think, look, you did a good job painting your toenails the other night! It may sound dumb but sometimes it is all I can think of.

It has been a good lesson for me. Being positive is definitely a learned skill, and I’m not always great at remembering to practice it. But for some reason, it seems easier to do while I am on my mat. Just another reason to love yoga, I guess!