How often do we define ourselves by what we can’t do? How much of our identity is linked to how we see ourselves – our limitations and failures – instead of our positive attributes? That inner voice, playing over and over on a loop inside our heads, is not objective fact but subjective opinion. And it is that opinion that counts most: it gets heard most often.
So how do you get it to just stop? Or change?
In Sanskrit, the word Parivrtta means “revolved.” Various poses in yoga rotate the torso while keeping one’s hips stationary; in effect, contorting our bodies like those lovely proverbial pretzel shapes we’ve come to associate with yoga. We might twist ourselves into Parivrtta Parsvakonasana, gamely trying to keep our back heel down on the floor while opening our chest to the ceiling. Or in Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana, attempting to stay balanced while raising our back leg and opposite arm, turning our torso from one side to the other.
Not an easy task, twisting. It’s hard to keep balanced. Falling out of a pose and stumbling around on one’s mat are not uncommon occurrences. At least for me. Frequently I find the foot I so firmly planted on my mat wavering and wobbling in its valiant effort to maintain stability. To no avail.
And as true as that is for the physical practice of yoga, so it is in our experiences off the mat. How do we change our perspectives? Uncover and possibly turn around in our attitudes and opinions? As each of us listens with resigned attention as we tell ourselves that we’re too fat or too dumb or too stiff (okay, that one might be true for me) or too something, we can open ourselves to a different story, sing ourselves a new song. Instead of convincing ourselves that we are the loser of a successful family or incapable of public speaking or a complete spaz when it comes to sports, we can turn to a new, perhaps striking idea of who we are and what our reality is.
And that’s not easy. Change – any change – can be difficult. It can be challenging just to take a breath and step into an altered vision of possibility, just as breathing can be a struggle while in twisted triangle. It feels uncomfortable, constricting even. And we might stumble as we try to maintain our equilibrium and challenge ourselves to consider new alternatives -- make new choices –in the way in which we see ourselves.