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Forgiving yourself during postures

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Photo by Monica Felix @

I’ve never been one to hold grudges.

Getting mad at people for making mistakes that they didn’t know were mistakes at the time is exhausting and insensitive. It’s easier to just let them off the hook and accept their imperfect humanity, rather than wrap myself up in wrongs and prosecute people for crimes past.

But although I’m quick to let the actions of others roll off my back, I do have a tendency to hold grudges with myself. It’s just my personality. By setting unrealistically high standards for myself and getting upset when I fail to meet them, I subtly reinforce feelings of supremacy associated with having high standards in the first place. It’s this cruel infinite regression of unforgiveness that I trap myself in.

But the good new is, there are physical keys to help unlock those emotional doors. As my yoga instructor likes to say, the shortest distance to the heart is through the body. Meaning, when there’s a challenging emotional experience you want to work through, simply back into it by changing your sheer physicality.

Just ask the masters. They believe that the inability to forgive yourself stems from an imbalance in the heart chakra. After all, this center of spiritual power governs the rib cage, lungs, diaphragm and of course, the heart. That’s why students simultaneously love and fear poses like cobra, triangle and camel. Because doing so opens the chest cavity. Which exposes vital organs. And doing so requires deep courage and vulnerability.

But again, as the body goes, so goes the heart. That’s why, for people who hold grudges with themselves, those postures are always worth the cost. They keep the positive energy flowing. The literally open your heart, which creates the necessary space to love yourself.

Sure beats pay the price for your mistakes over and over again.

What prevents you from offering and receiving forgiveness from yourself?

Scott Ginsberg is a writer, daily practitioner and work study volunteer at Bikram Yoga Park Slope.