If you ever attend a yoga class, you will likely hear the phrase “listen to your own inner guru”. What we mean by that in yoga is that if a posture is not right for our bodies, or if the duration of the holding of any posture is too much for us, wise yogis do not do it, or we modify the posture. We also mean to practice compassion for ourselves and nonjudgmentalism. Do not compare yourself to other yogis in class. Instead, focus on what you are able to accomplish.
For example, I do not practice Halasana, plow posture. It hurts my neck and I have a hard time breathing. Instead of being upset at myself that my body will not allow me to practice this pose, I do another pose while the rest of the class practices in plow.
There is a brilliant article in the September issue of Yoga Journal written by Kate Holcombe, the president of a nonprofit in San Francisco called Healing Yoga Foundation. In this article, Ms. Holcombe wrote:
One of the important lessons in Yoga Sutra 1.17 is that you are not supposed to be able to master everything immediately–and no one else is either! Shift a pattern of being critical of yourself or others by noticing when that judgmental voice starts to pop up and immediately countering it with a true and positive thought. . . [I]f you’re frustrated with your self because you’re having difficulty with something, remind yourself of your other valuable skills. . . Over the course of the next few breaths, acknowledge this situation . . . “as is” and then try to look at the seeming deficiency from a more positive angle. . . [C]ultivate patience and self-compassion by reminding yourself that insights and change will come in their own time with continued diligence.
If you get frustrated with yourself easily, I would encourage you to heed Ms. Holcombe’s advice. Negative emotions, like frustration, will not help you grow or achieve what you want to accomplish. Instead, focus on your positive abilities and find ways to take proactive steps to slowly better yourself.
A frustrated journey is not a productive journey. A loving journey is both more enjoyable and more effective. Are there ways you can be more compassionate toward yourself? Can you make your inner critic become your biggest fan? Of course you can! What are your strengths? Focus on what you can do to achieve your goals, not on your personal obstacles.
You deserve happiness. Believe it or not, your inner guru is wiser than you might give it credit for. Listen to your Jiminy Cricket. Let your conscience be your guide.