Monday, September 28, 2015

Is Self-Judgment Learned in School?

By Janine L. Agoglia

I was pondering this question the other day while I was teaching and the answer that came to me was very interesting: We are taught to judge.

When we are small children, we are busy exploring the world around us and taking everything in like a sponge; there is no judgement, only wonder and curiosity. We learn to walk and talk, love and play and there are no "right" or "wrong" answers to be concerned about. Everything is new and interesting and it doesn't matter what other people think, the world is ours to absorb unconditionally.

When we go to school, we are taught to look at things more closely; observe, but define and discuss what we are observing, distinguish between things as the same or different and ask why and how. The more we start to discern and analyze, the more we place judgements on things, like "this ball is blue, not green," or "the answer is 5, not 6," or "this smells bad," or "this is wrong."

The more we learn with our minds, analyzing, discerning, discriminating, criticizing, the more we apply that type of thinking to other parts of our lives: "this isn't the right shirt/shoe/makeup/music/phone/lifestyle, etc to have," or "you aren't good enough to do ________," or "I don't want people to judge me for thinking/acting/looking this way."

How do we go from joy in learning to negativity about ourselves? We learn to judge. The problem with judgements, is often times they are based on beliefs, rather than what is true.

  • Will you actually die if you don't get the job you want? No.
  • Will your leg actually fall off if you don't move it? No.
  • Will that mosquito bite itch forever if you don't scratch it? No.
  • Will you be unlovable if you are not perfect? No.
  • Will loved ones think less of you if you follow your own path? No.

And the list goes on. Is your self-talk based on your beliefs or what is actually true? 

Instead of judging yourself, can you find kindness, gratitude, appreciation and acknowledgement?

When you feel like you didn't accomplish anything in a day, can you instead focus on what you did do? Maybe you made good choices, maybe you didn't, but you can learn from those choices rather than judge yourself for them. Instead of focusing on what you don't have or wish you had, can you instead be grateful for what you do have?

In the end, what matters most is who you are, not what you have. Instead of focusing on your partner's shortcomings, can you focus on all the ways that he or she makes your life great? Acknowledging the positive things in your life helps get you out of feeling bad and the negative self-talk spiral that can occur. Focusing on what is good helps you see more good in the world and in yourself. 

Janine L. Agoglia has been teaching Vinyasa yoga since 1998. Her yoga journey started in 1995 with Iyengar Yoga and she discovered Vinyasa yoga in 1997. The combination of breath with proper body alignment is what fuels Janine's practice and the classes that she teaches. She believes that yoga should be safe as well as challenging, creative and fun. She always emphasizes proper alignment within the flow, as well as focus, breath and humor to help students find the balance between strength and ease. Deepening one’s physical awareness helps one strengthen his/her spiritual awareness and mind-body connection. Janine loves being able to help people deepen their own practices, finding yoga in everyday life on and off the mat. Her DVD, “Vinyasa Yoga for Regular People” is available for purchase at the front desk at Lumina Mind Body Studios in Wayland, MA.

In addition to being the Co-Director of Yoga and teaching yoga classes at Lumina Mind Body Studios, Janine is also a Licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist who practices at Integrative Therapeutics in Natick, MA.

To contact Janine, please email or visit her website,

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

As Simple As Breathing

By Leah Carey

It took me a long, long time to get myself to my first yoga class. I like to think I’m open to new experiences, but this one seemed a bit out there. Plus, I assumed flexibility was a prerequisite, and my tight hamstrings were not budging. Finally, tired of the excuses, and more curious than afraid, four years ago I put on sweatpants, threw on a t-shirt, and headed to Lumina. I borrowed a mat from the front desk, took a deep breath, and walked into the studio. 

The class was advertised as gentle yoga, and it was just that. The instructor was kind and reassuring when I introduced myself as a beginner. I could do each of the poses, basically, even though my hamstrings protested. There wasn’t too much sweating. There were no mirrors. The lights were low. The final resting pose was delicious.

I felt great afterwards, all stretched out and somehow lighter. Even more than the physical effects, though, I felt better inside. I had been stressed lately, going through physical and emotional transitions as a woman and mother, and I’d just made a career change. It had been rough going, and yoga allowed me to be okay with all those changes, to check in with myself and find I was still in there, still whole, still me. 

As I continued my yoga practice, I reconnected with the part of me that loved to create. Learning to focus on breathing in yoga got me out of my chattering mind, and I found time off the mat to write - something I hadn’t done in years. I realized there would be huge benefits to doing yoga and journaling together – intentionally combining these powerful, self-discovery tools - and I approached Janine Agoglia about co-leading workshops with this unique approach. 

The idea of the As Simple As Breathing workshop series is to quiet the mind and reflect on our gifts and strengths, use yoga poses and breathing to center us, and journal to discover more about ourselves. The 7 workshops build on each other, and we’ll end each session with what we call an inquiry, something to think about between sessions that enhances the internal work we’re doing.
This series is a low-key yet mindful way to work through life transitions, tap into your own creativity, and get clearer on your life’s purpose. As in all things, you’ll get as much out of it as you put into it. Janine and I are here to help in any way we can.

Hope to see you at the first As Simple As Breathing workshop series!

ImageLeah Carey is a certified executive coach and leadership consultant and the author of As Simple As Breathing: On Yoga, Writing, and Life. More of Leah’s thoughts on books and writing can be found on her website,