A few weeks ago I was on a rooftop terrace in Ostend for a Yoga-intensive. I spent 5 mornings in the same group: really taking the time for myself and to enjoy. The weather was beautiful, the sun was out and there was a light sea breeze. I stood barefoot, eyes closed on my yoga mat and … I was critical of myself! Critical because I could not do some of the postures, or could not hold them for as long as I felt I should. I was displeased that I did not succeed.

Afterwards I thought: Hello, it’s summer and I’m standing on a beautiful rooftop terrace. I’m healthy and I’m doing yoga in the sun … Why am I so critical of myself and what am I really fussing about? Do you recognise yourself in this situation? Are you sometimes too critical for yourself or for others without actually having a good reason? 

Let’s take a look at this from the basic philosophy of TA.  

Back to the basic philosophy of TA 

When you live according to the basic philosophy of TA, you live from 3 basics. These help you to look at situations from a different perspective than you might be used to: 

  1. Everyone is ok

With TA you assume that everyone is ok, yourself too. You leave everyone in their worth, which allows you to think much more objectively and avoid judging, when it comes to yourself as well. You can take a step backwards and look at yourself from a distance: I’m ok, even though I cannot hold that yoga posture. This kindness towards yourself requires you to accept the situation as it is. Accepting that it is what it is forgoes the possibility for change.  

  1. Everyone can think for themselves

My critical attitude towards myself is not coming from nowhere. It stems from a pattern that is ingrained in me since my youth. I grew up in a family where it was important to achieve and perform in life. Working hard and doing your best were core values ​​in our family life. There’s nothing wrong with that, but now —a while ago— I’ve become an adult and I can think for myself about the choices I make. I do not have to be guided by what others think. 

  1. Everyone can reconsider their previous decisions

In the past, we have often based our choices on what our parents felt was good for us. We have often done exactly what they expected from us, or we did exactly the opposite! Also in this last case, we have based our choice on what was expected of us. 

This is absolutely normal and even desirable. As a child, you were dependent on your parents and of course you wanted to please them. 

We often forget that we can and are allowed to reconsider those decisions. This can be a very big and life-determining choice, but also something very small. For example, I can decide that I won’t let the past pressure to perform influence me, but that I regard myself with gentleness if I cannot sustain a yoga posture for a long time. Indeed, I did not come to the yoga-intensive to prove anything, but to relax and centre myself after a busy period. 

Show kindness to myself? That’s easier said than done, Linda! 

I totally agree! Remember, I was the one who was so critical of myself during my yoga class, while I am supposed to know TA quite well. ;) I also step into that pitfall from time to time. How is it that we sometimes end up repeating the same patterns? 

When we have been busy and are tired, when get swallowed up by the madness of the day and surpass ourselves, we increasingly fall back in our old patterns. When you become aware of this, you give yourself the chance to recognise those patterns and change them. 

The magic of a group 

Engrained patterns are often difficult to discover on your own. Often, you do not even know that you use those patterns, but you are unknowingly acting on them. Even in a one-on-one conversation with a coach it often takes a while before you get to the bottom of the problem. In a group, you learn from each other and get feedback from different points of view, making it easier for you to achieve your goals. I think that group therapy is thus very valuable and so have I organised a series of group therapy meetings. 

Your body knows 

In these therapy groups we will be working with TA as well as with body language. Often your body signifies exactly where your ingrained patterns lie, but you need some external insight to recognise them. 

For example, once during a group session, a coach made the remark: “My clients can always call me whenever they need to,” while she lifted her hands and arms, the palms outward and made an averting gesture. That movement was in contrast to her words. When she became aware of it, she came to a valuable insight: She also needed time for herself and, in fact, hesitated to say so. She thought that a good coach should always be “stand by” to help. She has now told her clients that she is available at certain times and not at other times. Her clients know that now and keep that in mind. They do not think it is obvious that their coach is always available to them. That is good for the coach as well as for the clients, who do not become too dependent on their coach. Carefully looking and listening to her body language helped her get to the very essence of her question quickly. 

For coaches 

My yoga teacher shared a beautiful expression during one of the yoga-intensive days. She said: 

“We want to give our children roots and wings, roots to be grounded and wings to fly away.” 

This doesn’t only apply to our children. As a coach, you also want to give your clients roots so they can feel at home and grounded. You also want them to feel their wings so that they can freely choose where to go with their lives. Not being overly critical, but just being gentle to yourself and to your clients is an essential part of this process. 

Want to learn more about how to help your clients with TA and body language? Then the group therapy is right for you. The next session is on 10th November. You’re welcome to join. 

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Linda Hoeben
+32 474 920 877
Rommersom 1A, 3320 Hoegaarden