Off the Mat Yoga Popular

Are You Being Selfish Enough?

Taking Time For Myself

Guilty.

That’s what I felt after telling my close friend and a colleague I won’t be staying three hours longer at work to help him out. I’d planned a nice evening for myself: an hour on the mat followed by a supper of roasted stuffed peppers and the Hunger Games movie. All I wanted to do was relax watching a strong female save the world. So I grabbed my coat, gave him an apologetic hug and left.

On the way home guilt grew. My back muscles started to tense as they do when I’m stressed or uncomfortable. I made a mental list of reasons why I hadn’t stayed. The main one was tiredness – I’d just gotten better after a long illness and had a long work week ahead of me. Another one was a lack of time for myself. On top of my full time job I volunteer at a hospice and do freelance translation. These weren’t the only reasons though. The list went on and on.

Lost in thoughts I barely noticed reaching my house. I went to my room, changed into my favourite yoga pants and rolled out a pale blue mat. I stood in Tadasana still explaining to myself why I’d chosen to enjoy my yoga practice rather than work. My mind was overflowing with ‘excuses’ and I could neither focus nor relax. I took a deep breath, put on Chet Faker playlist and started a vinyasa flow.

Learning Ahimsa

I was in Warrior I pose when the realisation dawned on me: sometimes it’s OKAY to be selfish.

Embracing reverence and love for all (Ahimsa) we experience oneness

Yoga teaches us to love all – to serve and respect everyone. Ahimsa, the first of the yamas, is the most important yogic practice. Gandhi said that Ahimsa is “a comprehensive principle” and when mastered all other ethical guidelines fall into place. Ahimsa means not to injure or show cruelty to a creature or person in any way whatsoever. We are not to harm physically or emotionally. We are to be kind towards other people and things. We are to adopt a considerate attitude in every situation.

It’s easy to forget that in order to serve others we need to love and respect ourselves first. We are all human and each of us experiences the full spectrum of emotions. We feel pain, joy and disappointment. We get tired. From time to time, life is just too much and we need to slow down. By taking care of our needs in a balanced way we become healthy and happy. Then, we naturally want to extend ourselves to others – our family, friends and even our adversaries – in loving service.

Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Enjoy it. Sometimes it’s OKAY to be selfish.

What’re your thoughts? Have you ever felt guilty or selfish for focusing on yourself? What did you do to pull yourself out of it?

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2 Comments

  1. Amanda

    Amanda

    October 1, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Why is it so much harder to practice non-harming toward ourselves? I’ve gotten so much better at not feeling guilty when I take time for myself, or when I simply decline to do something with or for someone else that doesn’t seem like it will feel good to do. I’m a better person for everyone in my life when I’ve allowed myself to rejuvenate. 🙂

  2. Pála Margrét

    Pála Margrét

    October 16, 2016 at 8:08 am

    Reading this while holding a pigeon pose, haha 🙂 But yes, this one is great! And so true! I took a year abroad where I for the first time in my life didn´t need to take care of anyone but my self – truly a practice in being selfish! (I´m the oldest of both my siblings and all my cousins, so I´m really the responsible one). Now I´m back home and that knowledge sticks with me, I´m able to be selfish in a way I´ve never been before. Thank you for that! 😀

    Humm, maybe I should start reading articles while holding plank pose, haha 😉

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