As a yoga teacher, several people have mentioned to me that sometimes if they see me in public, they feel guilty and shameful and will try to avoid me so that they don’t have to explain to me why they haven’t been coming to yoga.
Do you ever feel guilty for not going to yoga?
Stop feeling guilty for not going to yoga. Guilt and shame are the antithesis to yoga. Yoga is a practice that helps us understand ourselves as a Being, a divine member of the oneness of all things and valuable simply because we are. Guilt and shame are the inevitable toxins of any belief that equates your worth based on actions rather than your Being. Therefore, yoga reminds us that we are human beings, not human “doings.”
Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, world-renowned psychologist, author, and peace maker, teaches in his book Nonviolent Communication that guilt and shame are the most internally violent emotions we possess. He argues that we cannot practice non-violence toward others until we first practice it within ourselves.
Because guilt and shame are rooted in the misidentification of Self as a “doing”, and the final expression of yoga is Samadhi, the experience of Self as Being itself, it’s clear to see how guilt and shame are non-starters for a yoga practice. Perhaps this is why Ahimsa, or non-harming, is the very first step on the yoga path in the Yoga Sutras. Practicing internal non-violence by eradicating guilt and shame is the first step that destroys the false concept of Self as a “doing” and begins your path of illuminating Self as a Being.
Isn’t it incredible how we might climb mountains not to potentially harm another person but will so readily beat up on ourselves with negative self-talk?
I invite you to make self-love a part of your spiritual practice and build yourself up twice as much as you would another person. When you start to do this regularly, you’ll notice how much more bright and beautiful the world seems. You’ll notice how much easier it is to be kinder to the world around you. Magically, it will feel as if the entire world became kinder, less judgmental, and more compassionate. That’s because it did. And it did so in the part of the world that is closest to you, your own heart.
Dream and Write Retreat: Your Place in the Circle with Nan Seymour--a Writing, Yoga, and Nature Retreat at Harriman State Park, Idaho. August 17-20 2017
Because guilt and shame are anathema to our yoga practice, as long as you feel guilt for not going to yoga, you won’t go. Instead, try this on this self-talk, “I really love yoga because I enjoy how I feel when I do it. I’m committed to loving myself and one way I can show my self-love is to treat myself to a yoga class this week. And if circumstances don’t allow, that’s fine. I’m a beautiful Being, nonetheless. I’ll go as often as I can.” No guilt. All love.
Also, remember that practicing yoga doesn’t have to mean committing to a 90-minute yoga class. You might choose to do your own 10-minute practice of your favorite yoga poses, some breathing practices, and/or a simple meditation. And whenever you finish a yoga practice, class or personal practice, acknowledge to yourself that you did something to take care of YOU.
As you practice loving yourself, freeing yourself of any guilt or shame, you’ll find yourself evolving along your yoga path toward Samadhi, Being one with all things.
I heard master yoga teacher Rusty Wells say in a class once, “If I were really a good teacher, class would only last 10 seconds because I would just remind you that you are good just the way you are and because you are.”
All of our doing is simply a way of practicing Being so ditch the guilt about not coming to yoga. You’re a beautiful Being just the way you are.