Why You Should Say Goodbye To Guilt For Not Going To Yoga
I’ve been teaching yoga for almost 20 years. Several of my students have told me that when they see me in public, they’ll purposefully avoid me because they feel guilty and shameful for not going to yoga. Have you ever felt like this — guilty for not going to yoga?
Guilt and Shame are not Welcome in Yoga
Emotions like guilt and shame are the antithesis of yoga’s mission. Yoga is a practice that helps us discover and remember ourselves as a divine member of the oneness of all things and that we are valuable simply because we are. Essentially, we are a being vs. a doing. Guilt and shame are the byproducts of the belief your worth is based on what you can do rather than what you are. Yoga, therefore, reminds us that we are human beings, not human ‘doings’.
World-renowned psychologist, author, and peacemaker, Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, writes in his book Nonviolent Communication that guilt and shame are the most violent emotions we possess. He states that until we practice non-violence within ourselves, we cannot practice non-violence toward others. Because guilt and shame are rooted in the misidentification of the Self-based on what we can do, and Samadhi, yoga’s final endpoint, is the experience of Self as being itself, clearly guilt and shame are non-starters for a yoga practice.
Remove the Guilt and Shame
Ahimsa, or non-harming, is the very first step on the yoga path in the Yoga Sutras, listed in the Yamas and Niyamas. Practicing internal, personal Ahimsa, or non-violence, by eradicating guilt and shame is essential to destroy the false concept of Self as a “doing” and move toward your understanding and illumination of Self as a Being.
I invite you to begin to eradicate guilt and shame in your life and make self-love a part of your daily spiritual practice. Bolster your own heart and emotions twice as much as you would someone else. You are valuable simply because you are, not because of what have or can do. As you do this profound practice of self-love, you’ll start to see the world as a more beautiful place. You’ll notice how much easier it is to be kinder to the world around you. It will feel as if the entire world became kinder, less judgmental, and more compassionate. That’s because it did, and it originated from the part of the Universe that is most proximal to you—your own heart.
Because guilt and shame are anathemas to the purpose of yoga, you won’t go, as long as you feel guilt for not going to yoga. Rather, try this on this self-talk, “I love yoga. I love how it makes me feel and I’m committed to taking care of myself in this way. And if circumstances don’t allow, so be it. 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 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 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 with 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 simply 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.
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