Talking to Yourself

Apr 24, 2024


What yoga has given me through years of practice is reflected in how I talk to girls about building self-esteem. I ask them, who are you when nobody’s looking? What kind of thoughts arise about yourself? Are you kind, patient, and loving? What is the conversation that happens within you when you’re alone? Because that is the reflection of who you are.

- Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, Evolving Your Yoga

Imagine – if you dare – that your inner thoughts during yoga were visible to others, like thought bubbles in a cartoon. Wouldn’t that be revealing?

I came to yoga in my early twenties with a background in dance and gymnastics. The postures came easily.  Yet, despite the outward proficiency, my inner dialogue was far from yogic. Instead, it was filled with self-judgement and criticism so deeply ingrained that I hardly noticed it.

Over time, two aspects of my practice shifted this. Firstly, through meditation and reflection I developed self-awareness, which allowed me to recognize the harmful nature of my self-talk.

Secondly, I learned about yoga’s perspective that every human being is inherently worthy of love and respect. This was the paradigm shift that enabled me to respond to my inner critic with compassion, rather than feeding into more self-criticism.

Self-awareness coupled with the expansive vision of yoga empowered me to start seeing - and eventually speaking - to myself in a different way.

It’s no coincidence that Yoga is one of the six traditional schools of Hindu philosophy known as darshanas, a Sanskrit term meaning “seeing” or “looking at". Yogic understanding isn’t intended to stay on the level of the intellect. It’s meant to shift the way we perceive ourselves and our lives.

In the Buddhist tradition there’s the notion of the spiritual friend, or kalyana mitra, someone who is your ally and well-wisher, offering support and encouragement on your path.

How wonderful to realize that the clarity of mind and openness of heart you nurture through an introspective yoga practice allow you to become your own ally first, so you can genuinely become that for others.

Read more from the Beyond Asana blog