First Street Yoga Community News and Blog

Go easy on yourself, a new wave of research urges

A recent New York Times article discusses new research that shows that being compassionate to yourself may give you better health. It supports the Yoga Sutra I.33.

Sutra I. 33

“Through cultivation of friendliness, compassion, joy and indifference to pleasure and pain, virtue and vice respectively, the consciousness becomes favorably disposed, serene and benevolent.” (Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, trans. BKS Iyengar)

By practicing this Sutra not only towards others but to ourselves can change our lives from the inside out.


February 28, 2011, 5:26 PM

Go easy on yourself, a new wave of research urges


Do you treat yourself as well as you treat your friends and family?

That simple question is the basis for a burgeoning new area of psychological research called self-compassion — how kindly people view themselves. People who find it easy to be supportive and understanding to others, it turns out, often score surprisingly low on self-compassion tests, berating themselves for perceived failures like being overweight or not exercising.

The research suggests that giving ourselves a break and accepting our imperfections may be the first step toward better health. People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic. Preliminary data suggest that self-compassion can even influence how much we eat and may help some people lose weight.

This idea does seem at odds with the advice dispensed by many doctors and self-help books, which suggest that willpower and self-discipline are the keys to better health. But Kristin Neff, a pioneer in the field, says self-compassion is not to be confused with self-indulgence or lower standards. continue reading »

taking the next step:
faith and the yoga vitamins

Alison forwarded this wonderful article by Patricia Walden and Jarvis Chen. As the rains settle in and we turn indoors, what better time to deepen our practice?

Taking the Next Step: Faith and the Yoga Vitamins

By Patricia Walden & Jarvis Chen ::

Wherever we are with our practice, there is always the next step that we can take to enrich our experience and deepen our understanding of our true nature.  This is the case whether we are just beginning a yoga practice or whether we have been practicing for years (or lifetimes). As we begin a new fall semester of yoga classes, this is a good time to ask ourselves: Am I ready to take the next step? Have I become bored or mechanical with my practice? If I hesitate to take the next step, what is it that is holding me back?

Even in ancient times, yogis recognized that plateaus are inevitable on the path. In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali gives us a number of supports to help us redouble our efforts and recommit to practice when confronted by obstacles. Among these are five qualities that BKS Iyengar has named the “yoga vitamins” (see: BKS Iyengar, Tree of Yoga): faith (sraddha), vigor (virya), memory (smrti), concentration (samadhi), and wisdom (prajna) (Yoga Sutra I.20).

The first of these – faith – is at once the most fundamental and continue reading »