Having self-awareness enables you to be a more grounded, conscientious, and compassionate person. If you’re aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions, you can regulate them so that you’re kinder to yourself and others. Did you know yoga can help you become more self-aware? Find out just how yoga enhances your self-awareness below.
How Yoga Can Improve Self-Awareness
The practice and discipline of yoga can help you build your self-awareness. From the poses you learn to the mental exercises you practice, yoga improves mindfulness in all areas of your life.
Connecting with the Body
Being fully present on the mat brings awareness to every inch of your body. How each muscle flexes in a pose. How your lungs fill with air. How your hands or feet connect with the ground. When you feel unbalanced, you draw focus to your foundation to regain stability.
The more you practice connecting to your body on the mat, the more you’ll be self-aware off the mat. Any time you’re feeling off-balanced in life, you’ll know to draw focus inwards where you can determine what your mind, body, and spirit requires to feel whole again. If you’d like to join a virtual yoga class to work on your self-awareness, check out Health Yoga Life’s classes here.
Releasing and Replacing Thoughts
A guiding principle of yoga is the practice of welcoming any and all thoughts, even negative ones. However, don’t accept these thoughts as absolute truth. Acknowledge them and how they affect your body, then let them go and replace them with positive statements of truth. This practice of Noticing, Embracing, and Replacing thoughts improves your self-awareness on and off the mat. Build your confidence with this simple technique.
Acknowledging the Importance of the Journey
Each and every day you are growing in your practice. Once you realize this and hold this to be true, you begin to enjoy the experience of each pose. Even the transitions from one pose to the next offer moments of self-awareness. Practice controlling your body and gracefully transitioning from one pose to another.
This awareness of the process translates into your life off the mat. You’ll be able to acknowledge your skills and abilities at the present moment and know that with time, energy, and practice you’ll grow.
Quieting the Voice of Inner Judgement
As we mentioned above, yoga is about acknowledging our thoughts. However, it is not meant to be an invitation for your inner critic. With yoga growing in popularity in recent years, people often take the practice as a challenge to achieve the most complicated pose or to be better than their friend or neighbor. However, yoga is meant to invite stillness. It’s okay to be exactly where you are in your practice, even if someone is “better” than you. Enjoy each pose. When negative thoughts branch up, Notice, Embrace, and Replace. In this way, you are not ignoring reality or numbing yourself to pain or negativity. You are refocusing this energy elsewhere and accepting yourself as you are.
This self-awareness of who you are in the moment and what you are capable of will carry you through life. When your mind tries to tell you you’re not good at your job, you’re a terrible spouse or parent, or you haven’t achieved anything with your life, you’ll know to stop and replace these thoughts with positive, constructive statements. You won’t be paralyzed in the moment; instead, you’ll rise to whatever challenges you face.
Be on Your Side in 2021
During one of his classes, Stephen Allison, an HYL teacher, blessed us with a little piece of wisdom that we wanted to share with you. He stated that each person should practice “being on your own side.” Many times, we’re hard on ourselves – we self-criticize, having doubts about ourselves and our abilities and capabilities. In essence, we get stuck. But as Stephen pointed out, we should choose to be on our own side.
Instead of being self-critics, we can choose to encourage ourselves. Even though we may not be at a certain level in our yoga practice or we may not be working in a job that matches our experience, we can accept where we are, appreciate the journey as we continue to grow, and acknowledge our strengths. We get enough criticism from the people around us and the media; let’s not beat ourselves down. Choose to be on your own side this year by growing in self-awareness.
Thank you, Stephen, for this great nugget of wisdom! If you’d like to join Stephen’s classes, he teaches Mondays at 6 PM, Tuesdays at 12:30 PM, and a 30 minute class on Friday 12:30 PM. Grab your mat, yoga blocks, and perhaps a friend, and start practicing with a certified yoga instructor. Sign up here!