Brain for Mind GamesIn a recent yoga class, the instructor had us get into boat pose (paripurna navasana). If you are not familiar with boat pose, it involves sitting on the floor on your tailbone, balancing your legs out in front of you, and lifting your arms up in front of you. This is not a boat ride I want to take, but it is an excellent strengthener for your abdominals and hip flexors. Whenever I hear the phrase boat pose in class, I immediately cringe. Let’s just say that if a pose requires abdominal work, I am not a fan.

So, we get into the pose, and the instructor says, “Okay, we’re not going to try anything fancy in this pose today. Let’s just sit here and hold the pose and focus on what we need to do to get into a blissed-out state in this pose.”

Are you kidding me?

The words bliss and abdominal should never be together in one sentence.

I’m struggling to hold the pose and my balance, and the yoga instructor wants me to move my focus into a blissed-out state of mind? I don’t think so!

We keep holding the pose. I’m in agony and my wimpy abdominal muscles start to shake in desperation. We are not getting out of this pose anytime soon. Okay, I’ll try your little mind game. I’m going to think about the pizza I’m going to eat when I get home and the sound of the waves and how awesome yoga makes me feel. All of a sudden I’m transported into another place and I’m breathing into the pose and I’m not obsessing on how much I hate the pose and I’ve done it! Yoga High!

The mind game worked and I learned an important life lesson about how to embrace difficult poses—think about pizza.

Photo: Artem Chernyshevych

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