From time to time, we all get distracted on our mats during yoga class. From to-do lists and daydreams to work responsibilities and family drama, our minds drift off while our bodies take the shapes of familiar yoga poses. After all, brain activity is normal. In the same way our physical bodies flow in and out of poses, our thoughts have a rhythm too. One of the gifts of a yoga practice is learning to notice when we’ve become captivated by our thoughts—and then knowing how to reconnect to the present moment and all it holds.
But what about those times in yoga class (or anywhere, for that matter) when your distracting thoughts are consumed with cruel self-talk about your body and its perceived shortcomings, inadequacies, and imperfections?
Inner dialogues fixated on negative body talk breed guilt, shame, and unnecessary comparisons. This makes it nearly impossible to have a positive—let alone peaceful—experience in yoga class. Instead, your time on the mat will be filled with resentment toward yourself and maybe even toward others.
In fact, when you're caught up in comparative thoughts during yoga, you're probably everywhere in the room except for your mat: Your eyes are scanning around the room, comparing the size, shape, features, flexibility, and capability of everyone else in the room. You may even get caught up in comparing clothing or perceived popularity, or how much more other yogis “fit in.” Comparing yourself to others is a slippery slope that can go on and on and on, compromising your self-worth, self-esteem, and body image.
If you are often distracted by comparative thoughts during yoga class, here are five practical ways to become more present on your mat.
About the Author
Jennifer Kreatsoulas, PhD, E-RYT-500, C-IAYT, is a yoga therapist specializing in eating disorders and body image. She is an inspirational speaker on eating disorder recovery and body image and coauthor of the forthcoming book, Body Mindful Yoga: Create a Powerful and Affirming Relationship With Your Body (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018). In addition to her private yoga therapy practice, Jennifer leads yoga therapy groups at the Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Philadelphia and yoga workshops and retreats on eating disorder recovery and body image. Jennifer also trains yoga professionals how to nurture positive body image in students and private clients at the YogaLife Institute in Wayne, PA. She is the cofounder of 11 Elements: A Body Compassion Project Yoga Retreat, and a partner with the Yoga and Body Image Coalition. Jennifer's writing about her personal and professional experiences on the topics of yoga, body image, motherhood, and eating disorder recovery have appeared in Yoga Journal and other influential blogs. She has appeared on Fox29 News and has been featured in the Huffington Post, Real Woman magazine, Medill Reports Chicago, Philly.com, and the ED Matters podcast. Connect with Jennifer: www.ChimeYogaTherapy.com.