Yoga is a Mirror
Yoga is a mirror. This means that the beliefs we hold about ourselves rise up when we focus on our breath and body. We get to literally witness these beliefs in our yoga practice – they are reflected in our time on the mat.
Photos by Anna G M Temp at Devil’s Pulpit, Stirling, 2018
Why Yoga Is Transformative
We often use our feelings and our energy levels to dictate how we go about our day. The same applies to our yoga practice. We’re enthusiastic about spending an hour doing arm balances and dynamic poses when we’re feeling energised and motivated. We’d be more likely to lie down on a bolster and unwind if we’ve had one hours sleep and feel rubbish. You get my drift.
Yoga has a wonderful ability to cultivate the inverse of this too. We may think we feel a certain way, but on our yoga mat we quickly realise that our thoughts, emotions and energy are actually the complete opposite. We can’t hide from our limiting beliefs on the mat. In this way, yoga is a mirror; illuminating our true state.
Yoga Is A Mirror For Our Internal World
This can sound scary, but in reality yoga is a potent medicine. We can’t “fake it ‘til we make it” in our yoga practice.
We all have an inner dialogue of limiting beliefs on constant repeat. Sometimes we’re unaware just how much this inner dialogue holds us back! In many cases, we normalise these limiting beliefs. We don’t realise how much of our life is spent constantly listening to such harmful self-talk. Yet our actions are informed by our inner world, particularly the beliefs we hold about ourselves.
I incorporate yoga in all the work I do, coaching included, to illuminate this internal dialogue. Yoga is a mirror. This means that the beliefs we hold about ourselves rise up when we focus on our breath and body. We get to literally witness these beliefs in our yoga practice – they are reflected in our time on the mat.
What Yoga Illuminates
This can be easy to witness yourself. I’m going to use the example of falling out of a yoga posture.
- When your internal beliefs tell you how mentally weak you are, chances are you won’t be able to hold a pose for more than a couple of breaths
- If your self-worth is tied to your external achievements and successes, chances are you are going to feel like you’ve ‘failed’ every time you find something too challenging
- When you hold a belief that you self-sabotage, maybe you will blame yourself when you fall out of a pose
- Conversely, perhaps you tend to blame your external world for anything that doesn’t go your way. Your mat will suddenly be at fault (e.g. not grippy enough) if you can’t hold a balancing posture
If your internal messaging is more subtle and sneaky, it can be really hard to build awareness of what is happening. You may even associate yoga with personal failure – “I can’t do yoga”. In reality, it is usually your own beliefs that are failing you, rather than your yoga practice. That is why I always recommend regularly checking in with a good teacher who has the wisdom to discern between your limiting beliefs and your limitations.
That’s also why I really only teach private yoga classes rather than drop-in group yoga classes. I build up a longer-term and more personal relationship with my clients, so I can help everyone I work with to use the ‘yoga mirror’ to their advantage. See, once we have insight into our inner world, we can reflect our actions to our beliefs. Let me explain…
Reflect It Back – And Witness The Transformation
Personal story time! After a few seriously rocky years in my early 20s, I had zero faith in myself and my abilities. When I later started practicing yoga and investing in self-development, I realised my inner mantra of ‘I can’t’ was holding me back in every area of my life. This limiting belief came up every time I tried something new in my life, or moved into a challenging pose on my yoga mat. What did this mean? I couldn’t do it.
With that new awareness, I decided to challenge the hell out of it. Every time my ‘I can’t limiting belief raised its ugly head, I showed it that I could. I challenged that belief internally too. Every time I heard it, I would say “I CAN DO THIS AND I AM DOING THIS”.
In the years since choosing to replace my limiting belief with a positive one, I have felt unstoppable, and my life has got better and better – and better.
We can elevate our potential and transform our entire life when we change our beliefs alongside our actions. Where better to start than on our yoga mat?
Your Yoga Mat Is Your Training Ground
What would happen if you changed those limiting beliefs, starting on the yoga mat? Would your life be different if you saw those old thoughts come up and you transformed them into a positive belief?
- If your belief is that you are weak, how about you remind yourself of how strong you actually are – and how much stronger you will become by holding the pose?
- Think you’re a self-sabotage? Swap that limiting thought for compassion and remind yourself that you are doing the best that you can. Falling out of a pose is not a reflection on your character; it’s an invitation to change your focus to the present moment, not your thoughts.
- If you blame your mat every time you wobble, take some responsibility for your actions. You can become more intentional when you take ownership of your life, or when you focus on your actions rather than your environment.
Yoga can help you heal your relationship with yourself. There is no space for BS on your mat, because yoga is a mirror. Everything gets reflected back at you. You have a choice – you can lean into those limiting non-serving beliefs, or challenge and change them for the limitless truth.
Over to you! I would love to hear how your yoga practice has helped transform your life, or which limiting beliefs you feel are holding you back. Leave a comment below. If you’d prefer to keep it confidential then feel free to send me an email or DM me on Instagram. I try to reply to every email and message I receive.