Ten Lies We Tell Ourselves in Yoga Class


I can’t do that.

Is that what crossed your mind when you saw that picture of the woman in full camel? I had a great yoga teacher who when he heard someone say “I can’t” he’d jump in and say, “Actually, you’re currently unable.”

We constantly underestimate ourselves. By telling ourselves we can’t, we hold ourselves back from our true potential. If Bikram Yoga has taught me one thing, it’s that what I once thought was impossible, IS possible. I’ve taken those important lessons from the yoga room and applied them to my professional and personal life. The reward from this lesson has been incredible.

Those men/women have always been skinny.

I said this all the time when I started practicing. There were beautiful, bendy, skinny-minnies next to me and I’d think, sure it’s easy for her, look how thin she is! I was 40lbs overweight when I started practicing Bikram Yoga, I couldn’t touch my toes (no really, my finger tips were about 12 inches from the ground), and the best I could do in Standing Bow Pose was hold on to my foot… for months.

It’s easy to think the person next you has always looked like they do. But a healthier question to ask yourself is,

I wonder if Bikram Yoga gave him/her that body?”

The room stinks.

No, you stink. How do you think the yoga room got that funk?

Are you using a regular, rubber yoga mat? If so, you’re contributing to a stinky yoga studio. They easily grow bacteria, mold and a funky smell. When you practice the smell gets on the floor and contributes to the yoga room funk.

The good news is most studios (smelly or not) are serious about cleaning. I’ve been a “work study” cleaner for several studios and they clean the studio ceiling to floor. Including washing the floors in the room with an industrial machine once a week and wipe down the mirrors daily. Besides, you’ll notice that after you start practicing at said studio, the smell will bother you less. Also, the good news is when you’re sweaty and stinky, you’re getting all that grossness out of your body! Oh and ditch that bacteria infested mat for a cleaner, more hygienic one.

I will never get used to the heat.

For those of you who have been reading my yoga writing for a while, you know that I wasn’t a fan of the heat at first. I would tell myself all the time, I’ll NEVER get used to the heat. And I certainly won’t like it! The teachers would say things like “the more you practice the less the heat will bother you.” Psh. Yeah Right.

Turns out they were right. I’m naturally a hot bodied person (I am of Polish and Norwegian descent after all) and the other day I found myself telling the teacher after class the room wasn’t hot enough! This brings me to my next point.

That doesn’t apply to me.

It’s easy to tell yourself what the teacher is saying doesn’t apply to you. Like in the last example, I believed that other people would get used to the heat, but I wouldn’t. Let’s face it, we all want to be really special. We want to be the exception to the rule. You are special, but the rules of yoga class still apply to you.

I don’t need to listen to the teacher.

This lie is especially prominent in those who have been practicing for a long time. It’s easy to think that since you’ve been practicing for a decade, that you somehow don’t need to listen to the teacher. Or that you don’t need to follow the dialogue.

Please follow the dialogue! There’s nothing worse that practicing next to someone who does the postures at their leisure, when the rest of the class is cultivating group energy and moving together. And if you’re like me, you need to remember that you should stay in the posture until the teacher asks you to come out of it. Just because I’ve been practicing for a while and think I know when the posture should conclude, doesn’t give me a free pass to come out whenever I want to.

My left/right side is stronger.

Most of us (not all) have a side that is stronger than the other. This is a natural part of being a human. But when we discover our dominant side early on in our yoga practice, it’s easy to hold on to that. The results can be profound. What happens if you spend years slacking on your “weak” side because you give it a free pass?

The point of yoga is to create balance, strength and flexibility in the mind and body. The postures are tools to cultivate that balance. But if you dwell on your stronger/weaker side, you’ll end up missing daily opportunities to create balance. Notice if you have a dominant side, then let it go. Work as hard as you can on both sides of a posture, each time you take class.

I need to sit out this posture.

It’s hot, you’re tired, you just wrapped up a big case at work. You deserve to sit out this posture. I know it all, I’ve told myself lots of different versions of this lie. Sometimes we sit out postures we shouldn’t. Maybe we don’t like the posture (see point above about cultivating balance in the body), or at this point in class our heart is racing. So we sit out.

It’s really important to listen to your body. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take a break if you need one. What I am saying is sometimes we aren’t honest with ourselves and instead of pushing past a wall in class, we sit it out.

I need to keep going even thought I’m blue in the face and blacking out.

Must. Keep. Going. This is the opposite side of the coin (and one I’m most guilty of). For those proud, stubborn, egoic yogis like myself, sometimes you NEED to take a break and listen to your body. Everyone around you seems to be so calm, so collected, it looks so… easy.

And as a result you push yourself beyond where you should. You over stretch, you push yourself beyond your normal capacity for breath, and you can hurt yourself. Yoga’s about finding the balance between the two “lies” I need to sit out and Must. Keep. Going, no matter what! 

No one wants to practice next to me.

If you’re worried about wobbling around in Standing Head to Knee and disrupting the person next to you, fret not! The people around you don’t care what your postures look like. They only time they’ll notice you is if you grunt loudly and flail around like a fish out of water. There’s a beautiful balance in yoga class, where we’re all united, sharing group energy. Yet silent and individual.

I know all of these lies since I’ve told myself versions of them over the years. I still struggle with some of them. As it turns out, if you’re saying these things to yourself in class, you’re likely saying them to yourself outside of class.

By letting go of these thoughts, you’ll blossom in and outside the yoga room!

How do you let go of these lies you ask? Practice, practice, practice.

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