Bikram Yoga: 30 Day Challenge Days 1-7, Oh The Guilt

I wrote a day-to-day account of what happened in my Days 1-7 of my 30 day challenge but when returning to complete the blog, found that I’d either deleted it or written on top of it with something else because it’s completely gone.   How apt.  This is EXACTLY what happens when you take a break from yoga.  All the hard work you put in before, gets wiped out and you have to start again.

Except that, I hate doing things again or repeating myself and quite frankly I can’t remember what happened in those classes so I’ll be talking about something else instead.

I can tell you that I’m super stiff, that I’m sitting out postures a lot and that dragging myself to yoga is a drama just like back when I first started and every excuse imaginable  not to do it actually makes its way to the forefront of my mind and usually wins.

I know the yoga is good for me and there was a time when I enjoyed it  but these days I feel like I’m suffering during class, it’s not at all enjoyable and it doesn’t feel better afterwards.  It hurts during, after and the next day, with no immediate reward so finding the motivation to keep going back hasn’t been easy.

The 30 day challenge hasn’t made me go to yoga more, instead it’s somehow allowed me to make more  excuses not to go!  I set myself a goal, allowed myself to fail, told  myself it’s OK and then felt guilty about it.

And now, coming to my main realisation for this week which is, I have a lot of guilt and guilt is horrible:

  • I feel guilty for setting a goal that I had a high probability of failing to achieve.  I should’ve known better and not set it in the first place.
  • I feel guilty for setting myself up for failure regardless of knowing all the obstacles I’d have this month in particular.  What kind of person does that (other than a masochist)?
  • I feel guilty for telling myself it’s OK to fail instead of picking myself up and going for it.  I’ve been a fighter all my life but a Bikram Yoga 30 day Challenge comes up and I’ve given up before I’ve even started.
  • I feel guilty for choosing to fail and increasing the difficulty of succeeding as the days go by – the more I don’t do, the more I have to make up.  Why don’t I just flagellate myself while I’m at it?
  • I feel guilty about feeling guilty.

How’s that for mental issues?

Had I not set the goal, I’d still be feeling guilty for not going much so either way, I’d be feeling guilty.

So there you have it.  It seems I’ve been using alleviation of guilt to motivate myself to go to yoga and now that’s not working.  I feel guilty for not going enough, I feel guilty for going too much.

Yes, I am being a defeatist.  Let me just go to bed and never get up again ’cause it’s all too hard.  I can then lie there and feel guilty about being so lazy and depressing and then feel guilty about wasting so much time being lazy and depressing.

What is the opposite of guilt? ’cause it’s become glaringly obvious that’s the lesson I need to learn here.

What is the opposite of guilt?  You know, I actually don’t know!

I didn’t feel guilty (nor feel any other emotion) about losing my initial blog to the ether so I have proof that I don’t feel guilty about everything .  This also means that I know how to do the opposite of guilt, whatever that is, and I just need to learn how to apply it to whatever I feel guilty about.  As you can see from my list of what I feel guilty about, it’s all very irrational and nobody’s making me feel any of it but me!

It’s easy to rationalise – going to yoga or not going to yoga doesn’t affect anybody except me.   There are plenty of people who do yoga for hours a day every day and plenty of people who would rather do anything else but yoga.  None of them feel guilty about what they are doing or not doing and yet, here I am feeling guilty if I go too much, feeling guilty if I go too little, just feeling guilty no matter what I do.

I learned a while back that emotions remain repressed until such time that your mind/body knows you are strong enough to deal with them and then they come to the surface for dealing with.

They rear their ugly heads.  Well,  hello guilt!  Sadness, Anger, Fear?  I can tell you that they are nowhere near as ugly or as clingy as Guilt.

Your primary emotions: Sadness, Anger, Fear are all innate, they are essential for your survival – fight, flight, hide/freeze.  A situation comes when they’re required and you will feel them automatically and when the situation is gone, they too disappear.

Guilt however, is learned (societal, familial, religious expectations and obligations).  It’s not an emotion you feel until someone else makes you feel it.  It’s a secondary emotion and for most people, it doesn’t play a  major role in their lives at all.

For others like me, it pretty much drives 80% of what I think, feel and do.  I’ve always been a fast learner and boy did I learn this one quickly.  It’s ingrained into every cell of my being.  I’ve even learned to make myself feel guilt without any prompting from anyone!  I feel guilty even when I know it’s not my fault and I wasn’t responsible.  I feel guilty for things that happen when I’m not even there!  Yup it’s major alright.  So major, I’ve mastered it.  It’s showing up in all forms for me right now.  The good thing is, I can finally see it which also means, I can start to unlearn it.

All I can say at this stage is that you never know what a 30 day yoga challenge will bring.  This time around it’s an emotional upheaval with Guilt starring the show.  I may not be in the yoga room but I’m still learning a lot from it!

Cheers to self awareness!


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