The Quest for the Authentic Self at 3:38 in the Afternoon

The other morning, I woke up knowing that the day was going to be stressful. So I decided to focus on the following statement as the background narrative in my mind: “I am loose and relaxed, physically and mentally.”

Fast forward to 3:38 pm: Nothing could have been farther from the truth. My shoulders were close to touching my ears, and my mind was racing. I said the statement a few times out loud, but nothing changed. Psychology teaches us the power of repeated “I am” statements to shape our mental attitudes and behaviors. It was not working for me.

Then it hit me. This was a good time for 10 deep breaths in Downward-Facing Dog, followed by a yogic breathing exercise called Nadi Shodhana (Alternate-Nostril Breath). Through trial and error, I have learned that those 10 deep breaths, taken upside down, connect me to what is really important in the big picture, while Nadi Shodhana calms both mind and body.

Twenty minutes later, I returned to my desk much looser and more relaxed, both physically and mentally. The practice of yoga helped me live up to my ideal self. I needed the “I am” statement that I crafted in the morning to give shape to the optimal state of being I was striving for, and I needed the 10 deep breaths in Down Dog and the Nadi Shodhana to support that clarity and vision.

I can tell myself all day that I am loose and relaxed mentally and physically—but how do I actually create that loose and relaxed state on a physical level? That’s where the practice of yoga comes in. Once I loosen up physically, my mind also loosens up. There is tremendous power in the combination of positive psychology and yoga to help us live into our authentic selves.

Find out about upcoming programs with Karissa Thacker at Kripalu.

This article was originally published on the Wholebeing Institute blog.

Karissa Thacker, PsyD, author of The Art of Authenticity, is a positive psychologist who practices executive coaching and leadership development in the world of business.

Full Bio and Programs