Off Your Mat

Bringing yoga off your mat into your life, one pose at a time.


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The Judgment Pose

I’m most relaxed and focused in my yoga practice when I’m not worried about what other people think of me.

If I suddenly become self-conscious or worried that I might be judged, the pleasure I derive from my practice can drain away. I begin to see myself through the eyes of the people looking at me, and in my insecure moments I might imagine that they only see my flaws.

The reality is, the most critical eye in the room is the instructor who is looking to assist and he or she needs to use judgment to do so.

group yoga class

Tree Pose (Vriksasana)

Here’s a quick example. At first glance the above photo is of attractive people practicing yoga. However, as I look closer, I find flaws. I can spot three yogis placing their foot against the knee of their support leg. That can injure the knee. As an instructor I would gently remind my class to place the foot either above or below the knee. I used my judgment to identify a threat and then protected others by pointing it out.

Humans are hard-wired to judge, it is a survival skill. Thousands of years ago the first humans had to judge and assess most things in their environment for threat. They didn’t have the luxury of assuming changes and differences were ultimately good.

Akakus - Sahara Desert

Akakus – Sahara Desert

Fast forward to the present. We still judge. There are still physical dangers that we need to assess. However, we use our judgment in countless other ways. It is the way our minds work. We observe, we assess, we make judgments. It is what we do with those judgments that can either be helpful or hurtful. That choice is up to the individual.

People judge. It’s what we do. We cannot control what another person might do with their judgment. If a person makes judgments and uses them to degrade or humiliate an individual, then that is an example of judgment gone wrong.

So here’s the take away: Yes. People will judge you. No. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Ultimately, it is your own judgments about yourself that should resonate loudest.

Maybe the best approach is to adopt the philosophy of Wayne Dyer and remember, “What other people think of me is none of my business.”