Guilty for not doing Yoga?

Recently I found myself wondering why it is that so many of you experience guilt when you do not attend Yoga class. Some people actually dread meeting me accidentally in town because they feel so uneasy about it! Others assume I am calling about their absence where in reality I just called to inquire about things that are going on in their life.

In all my Yoga classes and Workshops as in my daily life I endeavor to always engage my students from a place of Namaste, a place in which I hold you in the highest regard and respect. Besides, I am very short (5'2") and it's impossible to be intimidating when you're short! I gave this much thought, and have reached an understanding that I found to be very profound and relevant to share with you all.

This is my conclusion: your guilt is self-inflicted! It has never been nor will it ever be my intent to make you feel bad, or shameful. On the contrary, I want you to know that even when you have doubt in yourself and in your abilities, in my mind I see you as a success story. I see a mindful person that is attempting to better their life. That you and I met in a Yoga class simply announced this truth to me. We share a path together towards Self-realization and awakening. However, we do not have to step into each other's exact footprints in order to advance. The path is very wide. It has to be. It has to accommodate, potentially, all human kind and any other life forms that might also want to evolve! I see myself as a friend and a guide to you, just as you are a friend and a guide to me. We each are free to engage in whatever experiences we desire. There are no rules on this path thus you cannot break any. There are no expectations, no judges, and no punishments.

Maybe the allegory was too vague, let me put it plainly; I do not judge or condemn you for not coming to class. There. Can't get clearer than that!

Now let us address the guilt. First off guilt is an emotion. Unfortunately, it is learned easily and early in life and becomes habitual, even addictive later in life. Our thoughts show us how quick we are to find fault in ourselves. "There I go again", "can't I do anything right?" "I'm useless". Sound familiar? It is not you that is useless, it is guilt that is a useless emotion. Useless because it retards change. It keeps us in a state of unworthiness that paralyzes us into NO action. It seems easier to be angry and discourage ourselves than to face the real consequences of our actions. In most cases, there aren't any consequences, we make up a "phantom punishment" lurking out there waiting for a chance to pounce. Making a dragon out of a dragonfly we engulf our being in a shroud of negativity, needlessly.

Sometimes there is a real "price to pay", a price of changes to certain circumstances in our lives, but realize that we are already, INEVITABLY, living through those changes whether we choose to feel guilty or not!

Alternatively we can decide not succumb to guilt by giving ourselves compassion in two ways. Either we take responsibility over our "mistake" and declare that "I did something that in hindsight I would not do again, I have more wisdom now, I understand better, I can see that there was a different way of going about things which I couldn't see then". This method works well for those long-term guilt trips!

Or, instead of seeing our action as "wrong" we can recognize and even celebrate our action as a choice! You see, guilt undermines our choices, even if our choices are noble and righteous. For example, if you CHOOSE not to participate in a Yoga class because you want to spend more time with your family, or you have to finish a homework assignment, or maybe just the laundry.why be guilty about that? It is where you choose to spend your life force, your energy and your valuable and precious time! You have the divine right to make this decision, and by all means ENJOY and be at ease with yourself! You can always call or write to me and say, "I am choosing to do this or that instead of Yoga, see you in the next moment!" It does not take away from the Yoga you have previously engaged in. Even a little Yoga reminds your body and consciousness of what it can do.remember - your very cells hold memory. Moreover, don't get caught up in thinking that if you haven't practiced for "so long", it is no longer worthwhile - that is guilt wrapping you up in sticky tape. Break free!

The best way to combat guilt is to take responsibility by seeing everything that we do as our purposeful choice. In the circumstances of your life, at this very moment you have choices. Make them. You may continue to do the exact same things you have been doing, but it will now be by your choice and therein lies your POWER! If you do not like your choices anymore, and it is time for change then by all means - Change!

Reflect for a moment on an area in your life that you still feel guilty about. How many more years are we going to keep this daunting feeling around? It is so heavy on us. Perhaps now is the time to say "I am done with this, I no longer entertain the feelings of guilt in my daily life" and then consciously and voluntarily choose to never befriend guilt again.

Claim your power: give yourself permission to remove the guilty garment and wear proudly the flag of freedom, the poncho of power or whatever your fanciest duds are!