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Of all the things that practicing yoga has taught me, I never knew that it would make me come face to face with a flaw that I truly wouldn’t have ever acknowledged or worked on: being judgmental.
Even putting this idea into words makes me feel a bit squirmish and slightly embarrassed, but what I love about yoga is that... When practiced on a regular basis, mindfully and living more consciously, you may sometimes be faced with a few “dark” sides that will end up bringing you to the light. Understanding and consciously embracing what being judgmental meant allowed me to deepen my love for myself and those around me.
When I first started out doing yoga, without even knowing that I was doing this, I would observe my fellow yogis and automatically compare myself to them. I would think things, such as “oh no, I can’t even touch my toes” or “ok at least I’m not the only one not knowing how to do this”. My mind would be in constant battle figuring out whether I was doing it right, why I wasn’t flexible enough and whether or not I was the worst one at it.
But Yoga isn’t about trying to touch your feet. It’s not about who’s better and who’s got it. It’s about aligning your body correctly and slowly developing a better posture, little by little, as time goes by. I was so harsh on myself. And in being harsh with myself, I would automatically and unconsciously be in comparison mode and hence, judge. It wasn’t just in yoga, in other areas of my life I would sometimes observe and compare myself to others, looking at what the others are doing, what lifestyle they have chosen and if I’m doing good enough like the rest of them according to “society’s standards”. Like they say, we are our own worst critic. It was time to love myself and spread it to those around me.
Embracing the dark
It is difficult to embrace our “dark” parts. In today’s world, we tend to fight off being flawed and seek perfection in ourselves and everything that we do. Acknowledging our flaws is something that we tend to dismiss, especially in the working world, and we tend to put the blame and fault onto others. But it is so important. I don’t believe that fighting the darkness helps, but embracing it will.
Practicing yoga, being mindful and reading many lovely books that opened my mind to embrace the “dark” in ourselves further helped me come face-to-face with my judgmental ways. I was able to understand that I was judgmental of myself and others because I lacked confidence or felt inadequate or even “threatened”. We could easily put the blame on not being confident or judgmental because of society, families, friends, the workplace and so forth, but at the end of the day, it is only ourselves that can change the way we look at the world. Learning to focus and meditate while listening to my body, mind and spirit throughout my practice allowed me to place my energy and love to this part of me that needed healing.
You know the breathing exercises that we do at the beginning of a yoga class or during a downward dog position to release all our challenges and problems? That’s what I had to do. I had to let go, accept, fully love myself and move on. It’s a beautiful process that helped me open up my heart to the world around me. I’m not saying that it’s truly gone, as the judgment can be hard to escape. It may still be there, but it is appeased.
I came to realize that It is okay to feel inadequate. It is okay to sometimes feel lost. And understanding that all those around me sometimes don’t feel at their best, it helps to connect on a more deeper level. I was blessed to be surrounded by other yoga students and teachers who openly shared their limitations that they are working on. In the end, we are all striving for love and acceptance, aren’t we?