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Yoga for the Self-Critic

Soothing Your Own Worst Enemy

When I was six, I used to compete in the acclaimed national Kiwanis musical festivals. I was good, and I knew it. With that strong confidence attached to my innocence, supporting my genuine desire to excel, I began my tapestry. I have since recognised our most instinctive journeys are just like the webbing of our nervous system. It is from the nerves we get all our sensory and motor messages. And it is from these early performing arts experiences I begin to lay my foundation, framework, and fears.

I have since recognised our most instinctive journeys are just like the webbing of our nervous system

As childhood and adolescent pathways were magnetically charging me towards greater challenges in the arts, my confidence somewhere along that ride was becoming damaged. As I sang my way through high school plays, community theatre, and ‘off-Broadway’ productions, the accolades I received instilled a paralysing fear in me, instead of building me up with endorphins and six-year-old confidence.

Six-year-old self: Yogi Samantha Bederman comfortably off the mat in a Simhasana ‘Lion’s Breath’ variation

I can recall several auditions or productions where tension was high. Higher than anything else I could ignite for myself.

As I sang my way through high school plays, community theatre, and ‘off- Broadway’ productions, the accolades I received instilled a paralysing fear in me

I remember those young, innocent, passion- filled highs as a felt sense imprinted on my soul. These gigs were branding me, like cattle, inside and out. The repetitive cycle of fear-induced emotions – failure, judgment, and loneliness, as they consistently sat on my shoulder criticising me – would become louder and stronger. Or so my psyche thought; I lacked perfection and the drive for excellence. Over the course of my young adulthood, I began to manifest fear of accomplishment, failure, judgment, and loneliness.

I lacked perfection and the drive for excellence

So a very important question arises for any one of us who is a perfectionist, self-critic, or who has lived with a lot of judgment and shame. How can we successfully rewire our brains so the old webbing can send more serotonin and oxygen to the motherboard? When there is nerve damage there are wrong and deficient messages being sent to the brain.

How can we successfully rewire our brains so the old webbing can send more serotonin and oxygen to the motherboard?

When we self-sabotage we miss the opportunity to actually be our very best selves. We attract what we vibrate, as I truly believe, what we think, wish, and crave; we also manifest the good, the bad, and the ugly.

When our foundational pathways are mapped out and the action and result are not balanced, you can find alignment by using your yoga to repair and heal the damaged psyche. The same way you can use yoga to manage damaged nerves and related radiating pains. The ache and sensations you experience are mixed or inaccurate messages from the brain. The self-critic is the nerve damage to our soul and she, too, can be rehabilitated with yoga. When the body and mind have balance, the soul returns to her six-year-old self and rides high above shame, which is an accomplishment.

Here she comes…my self-critic just texted me, ‘Yoga isn’t always the answer to everything’. But, my healed, authentic self believes, yoga IS the answer to everything.