When I first started doing hot yoga several years ago, I was convinced that I did not like it. I would glance at whoever the teacher happened to be and think to myself, “How do they do this all the time?” It seemed inconceivable to me that anyone would continue to do that class often enough to become a hot yoga teacher.
After a few years of being a hot-yoga-hater, I realized that it wasn’t necessarily the class itself that was challenging… it was my thought patterns that made the class such a miserable experience. While practicing, I would say things like “why can’t I kick as high as that person in front of me” or “I wonder what time it is.” But those thoughts did not serve me.
Then, something shifted. I started to treat the class like a moving meditation. I started to get it.
Whenever I caught one of those thoughts that brought me down, I would think, instead: “Everything is ok, just breathe in and breathe out. That’s all that matters.” This mindset started to leak into my daily life and when I encountered a stressful situation, I would take a moment to smooth out my breath and give myself a moment to put things into perspective.
I started to realized how powerful the concept of changing your thoughts can be. Marsha Lucas, neuropsychologist and psychotherapist says that “Thoughts are just thoughts. They are not who you are. Thoughts are just momentary neuro-events that happen in your brain.” Your brain is a giant, intellegent muscle that can be exercised and toned. So if you change your thoughts, you can rewire your brain.
So, the next time you have a negative thought, follow it with a positive thought. Try to not to be hard on yourself for that initial negative thought, because then you will be wiring your brain to be harsh on yourself.
As I say in the hot class all the time, you have more control over your internal experience than you think you do. Here’s another quote that has inspired me to think this way even since my first teacher training at Yoga to the People: