Discussion: Let’s Take It Easy On Yoga Shaming
Yoga Shaming Needs to Stop
I’m a self-acknowledged workaholic. I am in recovery, but make no mistake, the urges are still there. The addiction is not gone; I have just found a way to control it. I would go to a 12 step program, or groups, but who has time for that? I have to get back to work.
Despite this penchant to overwork, or maybe because of it, I undertook a journey, a path to enlightenment, in part inspired by the movie “The Big Lebowski” (read about its relation to four spiritual truths here).
Recently, I was studying and came across two different issues that, although they seemed unrelated at first, resonated with me.
This is a term often stated in relation to nursing or social work: careers where compassion is almost a job requirement, and certainly a desirable quality.
It happens when a caregiver gives so much of themselves the stress extends into their personal lives, “resulting in them generally not taking care of their own needs, and ultimately leading to the burned-out state of no longer caring.”
However, this seems to have extended beyond the typical professions into society as a whole. Often I hear those around me say how tired they are of people and their stupidity.
Fingers are always pointing at someone else, and they seldom acknowledge any fault in their own attitudes. It extends to many professions, and many situations, from driving to waiting in line.
One of the most controversial and commented on articles on “Do You Yoga?” a site for yogi’s and students of the discipline is an article titled “Is Yoga Shaming the New Fat Shaming?”
The article is written in response to those who fault the marketing of yoga using someone of a typical body image. This is one of the things I addressed when talking about Broga, the practice of yoga designed with men in mind.
The article created controversy not because the issue is not valid, but because the author compared yoga shaming, or the shaming of the lithe bodied promoters of the practice, with fat shaming.
The two don’t compare well. However, I have another question: why are we comparing shaming at all? Shouldn’t shaming itself just no longer be a thing, no matter who or what is being shamed?
Take a Time Out
All of us need a time out, and to get some time just for ourselves. Part of the issue with losing compassion is that we are not taking care of ourselves. The loss of compassion often leads to comparison to others, bullying, and shaming. These are not only problems of attachment, but also a lack of kindness.
The irony of the yoga shaming issue is yoga itself is a good way for a time out.
Yoga is designed for everybody and every body, so shaming someone, whether they fall into the stereotype or are far outside of it seems unreasonable.
Even if all you can take is small increments of time throughout the day, whether that is to take a walk or do some stretches or chair yoga, the result will likely be a beneficial attitude adjustment, allowing for compassion to return.
The primary issue with being a workaholic? Balance. When the balance between life, work, and family goes, so does compassion.
In fact, grumpiness almost becomes a way of life because so much of your energy is spent on the job.
The keys to this are simple to say, but often hard to follow:
- Leave work at work. Unplug when you get home.
- Use meditation or exercise as a transition.
- Focus on the moment at hand, and the person in front of you.
- Practice kindness in every situation.
These steps will help promote life balance, something easy to lose sight of.
A few years ago, I injured myself skiing. The injury was relatively minor, and while posting a status about it online, I mentioned that my pain probably paled in comparison to others, and I should not complain.
A few moments later, I got a message from a friend who had lost her husband to cancer not long before. “Never compare your pain to that of others,” she said. “Your pain is significant to you in the moment. Don’t apologize for it.”
This was a valuable lesson: knee pain or the pain of a lost partner didn’t compare, but it wasn’t ever about comparison. I could not imagine that person’s pain, nor could she imagine mine. But both were real, significant, and both types of pain mattered.
Some of the biggest arguments I have ever had with people were over comparisons that didn’t really matter.
So when it comes to fat shaming, yoga shaming, and any kind of name calling online or in person, let’s step back, take it easy, and show compassion even if we are tired. Shaming someone else never makes you, or them, feel better.
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