What does blame do to your yoga practice and what does your yoga practice do to your tendency to blame?
Realizing that blame is a learned human behavior is one of the first things I remember learning when I started the practice of yoga. If class was hard for me, I’d blame the teacher: Clearly she made it too hard; it wasn’t me! If I had difficulty holding downward dog or plank pose, I’d blame the teacher for keeping us there too long. It wasn’t about my upper body strength or tendency to give up too soon. If I was confused by the instructions, it was always because the teacher was unclear. Sometimes, I would even blame the students around me for causing my distraction.
I have been victimized in three distinct occasions in my life. The first was a physical assault when I was 21. The second was a hit and run while walking across the street on a sunny Sunday morning. The third was losing my 59-year-old father due to hospital negligence. I have struggled with what it means to be a victim and what is meant by “victims’ rights,” and I got really good at blaming others for the quality of my life. I spent a lot of time talking about how things had gone wrong and how none of it was my fault.
Eventually, I realized that the more I blamed others, the more judgmental I became of everyone and everything. I stopped thinking about the intention and effort others were putting in because I was in the role of a “victim,” where I was always expecting the worst. Jen Gray Blackburn suggests, “You will find life a whole lot easier if you can keep in mind that most people are just trying to do the best they can.” And maybe that goes for me, too. I can do no more than my best.
As a yoga student and practitioner, every time I step on my yoga mat, I remember to take responsibility for myself and my breath and my poses. No one else is to blame for the quality of my life.
As a teacher of yoga and a teacher of teachers, I have seen that many students go through an evolutionary stage of “blaming the teacher” just like I did when I first started. I don’t take it personally. After all, I am the one in front of them who is causing the friction (or at least that’s what they think).
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