I have a secret to share I have a disease, It causes mood swings, emotional eating, angry outburst and the occasional homicidal thought. It is called Yoga Guilt. It is something I know I will probably have forever but the good news is I am learning to manage it. Just like my dad’s diabetes I have parameters I have to put in place and triggers I have to avoid and just as he says no to high glycemic foods I need to learn to say no too!!!
Obviously I am kidding when I compare my Yoga Guilt with my tough cookie dad’s 30+ year fight with Type 1 diabetes…but, I could learn a lot about managing this fictional chronic condition from him!
Firstly what is the definition of Yoga Guilt…..?
Yoga Guilt is the tightness in your chest when you are trying to leave work on time to make it to your favorite class, or the flush of quiet anger you feel when you realize driving your kid to and from a classmates birthday party will mean no Yoga this Saturday or the massive crushing weight you feel all over your body when you leave your crying baby with a sitter and drive across town to catch the last class of the day.
Symptoms may include but are not limited to; irrational bouts of snippiness, tears, feelings of frustration, increased arguing with your loved ones and of course leaky bowels…ok maybe not the last one.
So how can we handle this condition so that our self-imposed guilt (and yes it is completely self-imposed) doesn’t manifest into loss of sleep, resentment towards others and worst of all giving up our mat time???
Just like my dad, I know I need to:
Plan Ahead: my dad needs to know when to eat and what to eat every few hours. I know I need to pick my classes at the beginning of the week (last minute does not work when you suffer from Yoga guilt) to make sure I have enough time to get there and I can say no if something comes up during the week in those pre-designated timeslots.
Take care of my health: Just like my dad I need to be consistent and committed to my practice. Because when I feel good and am healthy I can actively be more useful/helpful/positive for those around me.
Ask for help when I need it: Arranging for a sitter or a family member to help out weekly, alleviates some of the guilt you feel when you are trying to make last minute arrangements. The kids and puppies are prepared ahead of time and everyone knows what the plan is. OR ask your boss for flexibility in your schedule so that twice a week you can (without stress) make it to your lunch time practice.
Go easy on yourself: your condition tricks you into thinking you are a bad parent/caregiver/employee/girlfriend/husband/book club leader when you take time for yourself. Remind yourself that you need to tend to yourself and that the world will not fall apart for the 60 minutes while you are in king pigeon or rocking out a wicked Half Moon.
Get help for your symptoms and make your practice an automatic commitment that deserves your full attention, not a last minute whim that leaves you feeling stressed, rushed, and pulled in twenty different directions.
Banish that guilt and give those around you a chance to see what it looks like when someone makes their health and happiness a top priority. Soon you will see the bloating, itchy rash of self-punishment turn into a sweaty blissed post yoga glow. Trust me your loved ones will actually thank you for it 😉