Does Yoga Teach You How to Trust Yourself and Others? YES!

trustMy parents divorced when I was four. The broad strokes about my childhood experience after that are as follows–my dad liked women a lot, and my mom liked Chardonnay a lot. There was more to it than that, of course, but I spent a lot of time feeling bewildered and concerned about both of them.

Working Through the Confusion

I spent most of my growing-up years care-taking and peacemaking, and trying to be perfect so everyone would be happy. There wasn’t a lot of time or room to think about how I felt about anything, or to value my feelings. By the time I reached young adulthood, I had no clue how I felt about anything. I didn’t know what made me happy, scared, or inspired. I didn’t know what my gifts were, or how I should go about sharing them. I knew I didn’t want to be abandoned. I knew how to make myself indispensable to romantic partners. I knew how to be the good girlfriend, best friend, sister, daughter, student, but I had no clear sense of who I was, not really.

Dealing with the Pain

Needless to say, I found myself broken-hearted and pretty lost in my twenties. I was depressed a lot of the time, or anxious. I had frequent, debilitating migraines. I’d be in the kind of pain that makes you crawl around on the floor, vomiting, unable to see. I had a doctor give me a prescription for Percocet at seventeen and tell me to take it whenever I felt any pain coming on. It became hard to figure out the difference between an impending migraine, and normal stress, tension, or any uncomfortable feeling, so I took Percocet a lot. Basically, I was in a lot of pain.

Learning to Trust Myself Again With the Help of Yoga

When I started practicing yoga during my senior year at Columbia University, I was recovering from a horrendous relationship that had stirred the pot of all my childhood wounds. I had played out a lot of my history, looking to rewrite it, and find my happy ending, only to crash into a brick wall. On my mat, I started focusing on my breath. I was amazed at how that quieted the racket in my head. I started to pay attention to how I felt, and to figure out when my body was saying, yes, and when it was saying no. It took time and dedication, but I decided to place importance on the messages I was receiving from my body, and to reignite a conversation between my body and my mind that I’d been ignoring for years.

The reality is the body is full of wisdom and information about who we are, how we feel, and what we need to be at peace. The mind, while interesting, is full of ideas and opinions about how we should feel, or what we should need or want to be at peace. Some of those ideas are not even ours. A lot of the time we’re so used to being what other people want us to be, we’ve forgotten how to be who we are. And how can you possibly trust yourself if you don’t know yourself? Time and again, I’d put myself in reckless situations. I wanted to be happy, I wanted to be loved, but I did not treat myself kindly. I did not protect myself from people or situations, even when my intuition was saying “RUN!!!” I let my mind override my gut feelings for years, because I didn’t trust my gut, I’d been taught to doubt myself. At a certain point, that isn’t on anybody else, including your parents. At a certain point, that’s on you.

Growing Trust for Yourself & Others

The key to growing in trust for yourself and trust for others has to do with listening closely, and responding with compassion, honesty and kindness. These are things you can start to practice on your mat, as I did. If you’re in a pose and your body is saying. “That’s too much”, you back off, you find a place where it’s manageable, where you can breathe. Instead of striving and forcing your way into difficult poses, you give your body time, you work with it, you develop a bond there. You place more importance on the relationship you’re having with yourself than any pose. The more you loosen your grip, the less you get intense about having to “nail” a pose, the more your body opens. You’re not likely to find balance right-side-up or upside-down if there’s no foundation of trusting yourself. If you build that first, you’ll be surprised about where your body will go and what it will do for you, and you’ll also realize that getting your ankle behind your head is not the key to your happiness. Trusting yourself is, though.

When you know that you’re placing importance on how you feel, when you trust that your feelings have an impact on your actions, choices and the direction of your life, you can relax. My mind is full of interesting ideas, and sometimes I enjoy them a lot. Other times, I laugh at the absurdity. As far as choices about where I want to be, how I want to spend my time and with whom, what it is I’m trying to offer up, whether a situation or relationship feels right, or not so much, I always listen to my gut feelings now. I still get migraines occasionally, but the frequency and intensity have lessened so profoundly, they aren’t a meaningful problem for me at this point, and I don’t have any desire to numb out. I want to be awake for my life, and open to all my feelings as they arise, even the ones that are challenging; I don’t want to blur the edges or be in a fog. I changed the way I eat, I make sure I get enough sleep, and when I need to rest mentally or physically, I rest. Having an open and ongoing conversation with your body makes life so much easier. Life is mysterious enough, you really don’t want to be a mystery to yourself!

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

Want to start opening that conversation between your gut feelings and your loud mind? Try this class. It’s called Follow Your Intuition or Get Burned! Preview it here.


Or, try a full course…

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13 thoughts on “Does Yoga Teach You How to Trust Yourself and Others? YES!”

  1. Hi Ally,
    Your writing continues to touch my heart and soul. Whereas our childhoods were colored with different hues and shades, we both encountered painful 20s. I internalized my anguish with a horrific eating disorder…and even though I finally stopped binging and purging once I became pregnant, the hate that I held for my body and me continued. Yoga, meditation, and writing have been instrumental in my recovery and healing. Yoga, especially has brought me back to my essence, my true self. Thank you for all you do! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Kelli. I’m grateful this resonates with you, and so glad to hear you’re kinder to yourself now. I so relate. Much love to you, and huge hugs.

  2. Ally. You are so brave to write about your childhood and teens. And growing up. I admire you SO much! If only more people knew about yoga! I know about migraines too. In fact, I have stories to tell you about migraines and back pain. Read John Sarno Mind over back pain and healing back pain. You will be amazed and astounded as they say in the circus! It works. Because all of it comes from repressed emotions. Especially repressed anger. So you can tell the migraines: “kiss my ass”! Ha! And also back pain and or all kinds of “pains in the ass”. Ha! Ha! Oh how Iwish you were my stepdaughter! You know why! They are a “pain on the ass” my stepdaughters! Thank God for my daughter my husband and my precious girlies. Love you!

  3. Believe in yourself is what I tell my girlies every day! Dr. John Sarno says about repressed emotions, that Freud knew. He knew that it is an unconscious strategy we all use. We send our psychological pain to our body! To distract oneself from dealing with our psychological pain. Really! So by telling ourselves. Okay, I know what you are up to. The cat is out of the bag. There is nowhere to hide. This means talking to oneself out loud, and sayingt to our brain: Hey! I won´t put up with this! Think psychological, not physical. Why? Because it really works! In fact, Dr. Sarno one day during a migraine asked himself: Why am I angry? And that was his last migraine. And all the energy it takes to repress our emotions all because we think we can´t deal with them. Well, we can. And we can be free! Free from so much more than migraines and pains in the ass! Free from being tired sick and tired. No? Ha! Free to be ourselves!Just like that. This is so interesting. If only more of us believed in ourselves. Because alot of this business with the “pain in the ass” in our life is about not believing in oneself. And as my zaydeh always said: That´s all!

  4. I just published a book about how yoga works, why yoga works, and the science behind the ancient methods of yoga science and cognitive research. There are some very interesting and shocking facts that will blow your mind. It makes you wonder how the people of 10,000 years ago were so advanced in knowing the body and mind connections. Check my website for more info. or Amazon search “Yoga Affect.”

    On a more personal note, my first Chapter tells your story from a parents point of view. It is my story. When I read this blog post I cried for you and for my now children in their late 20’s and early 30’s. They too still suffer from the breakdown of the family.

    I am going to send them a link to this course. In fact, Christmas is just around the corner!

    Thank you and God Bless 🙂

    1. Hi Sandra! Sounds like there’s a lot we could talk about, I will definitely check out your book, and look forward to meeting you the next time you visit your daughter in Santa Monica, yay! Much love and many blessings, Ally

  5. Hi my friend,I like you came from a divorced home age 6 a very painful one of fighting and violence my dad the womanizer my mom the wine lover and young men lover too,very embarrassing and confusing to say the least,but instead of pills it was pot for me and also,unhappiness in all relationships until I met my husband of thirty years and my children too! Now I’m blessed but I became a doormat and people pleaser to the inth degree and am working on unlearning these most destructive feelings of what you think and desire don’t matter!! uh? you only live once! at least on this back half I will have a chance to get it right I hope if I don’t run out of time

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