July 17, 2013

Yoga + Affirmations = Yogaffirmations. ~ Christine Marion-Jolicoeur

I’m relatively new to the idea of affirmations.

In the past I thought the whole business was a bit too fluffy for me and it took a while before I grew curious enough to give it a try. It’s certainly not a new idea, but I didn’t fully understand what it was all about, or how amazingly, dramatically positive it could be until this past year.

I had been hearing about it again and again and ended up watching a Youtube video of the lovely and inspiring Louise Hay, (I highly recommend her book, You Can Heal Your Life to anyone looking for more information or direction on this topic.) When I saw how quickly and drastically this practice improved my health, outlook, self-esteem, anxiety and feelings of claustrophobia, I started using it more and more in all areas of my life. Eventually, some of these affirmations found their way onto my yoga mat.

I’d love to say that it was all very easy and that it came naturally to me, but it didn’t. In fact, it felt very silly and superficial at first.

The best advice I received was to keep repeating an affirmation (preferably in front of a mirror) over and over again until something clicked and it didn’t feel weird or silly or even painful anymore. Once I had this bit working for me it was easier to make up my own (more personal and easier to remember) phrases.

Before I get into all of the accompanying goodness, let me start off by telling you a little bit about the way things used to be for me. I would lovingly describe myself as insecure, confused and constantly trying to be better than perfect. Mostly though, I just ended up being a big bully to myself. I actually have vivid memories of being in one of my first yoga classes trying to do downdog, clenching my jaw and willing my heels to touch the mat, while silently screaming at myself, “Come on! She said this is supposed to be a rest pose! Why are you making it so hard?” I left class thinking about everything I hadn’t done well and wondering why it was so effortless for everyone else. Ouch. No wonder it took me years to make a regular yoga practice a priority.

Now, the shiny new version of me is so done with pushing myself to get to a class, then forcing myself into poses and being frustrated (with a sore jaw and a headache!) at the end. Instead, in yoga and in life, I try to focus on the positive, to find joy in everyday moments and to practice self-care and mindfulness like it’s my job (because it kind of is). I believe this is where the idea of yogaffirmations came from.

Yoga + Affirmations = Yogaffirmations

Likely, I’m not the first person ever to think of this fun little portmanteau, but I’ll explain what it means for me personally. I see yoga as a chance to reconnect with my body (to be physically active) and my intuition (to trust myself.) I see it as a chance to rest when I need to rest, or know when I need to give a little bit more. In a similar way, affirmations are a way for me to connect with my feelings (first of all, to remember that I have feelings, and then to try to recognize what those are).

Perhaps most importantly, both yoga and affirmations are ways for me to get out of my hypercritical, over-thinking, analytical brain for a little bit and to be kind to myself.  I guess it’s not so surprising after all that I’ve linked the two together.

Here are some examples of Yogaffirmations:

Cobra: My heart is open. I am loved and loveable.

Lunges: I am strong.

Lunges: I am strong.

Triangle: I am supported.

Twists: I am flexible.

Goddess: I am open.

Savasana: I am calm and peaceful.

Tree: I am grounded.

Shoulder Stand: I am balanced.

Warrior II: I am brave.

Child’s Pose: It’s okay to rest.

General Motivators and Mood Boosters: My mat is a safe space. My body is fit and healthy. It doesn’t have to be perfect. This is what I can do today. Don’t push, just soften into it.

So now, when I’m preparing for a pose — instead of that nasty self-bullying — I’ll mentally repeat a word or phrase that has a connection to the purpose of the pose and/or to the parts of my body that I’m using. It helps me to focus my attention and my intentions, to get more fully into the pose and to stretch deeper or hold it longer. It’s such a change to finish up my practice thinking, “That was great, I’m really proud of myself.” It may never be effortless, but at least now I’m happy to keep coming back to my mat.

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Assist Ed: Jade Belzberg/Ed: Bryonie Wise

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Christine Marion-Jolicoeur