Repair the Ego, Heal the Self

Ego and self-worth are not always valued in modern yoga. In fact, many of us have learned that yoga requires the opposite: dissolving the ego, suppressing desires, and surrendering into a state of oneness (aka self-less-ness).

Yogic thought leader Lorin Roche claims that this denial of the self can be damaging, and he believes that the ego gets a bad rap. There is no need to suppress your ego in order to be a good yogi, he says. He describes the ego as the "I am" awareness – a healthy sense of individuality to be cultivated and celebrated.   

In her book Quit Like a Woman – a fiery manifesto on the choice to live without alcohol – Holly Whitaker questions the recovery community's emphasis on humility and posits that the ego does not need to be surrendered in recovery. She points out that this approach was created by a privileged class of men in the early 1900s whose sobriety may indeed have benefited from some techniques to suppress their inflated egos.

But many women and minorities, Whitaker says, may need exactly the opposite. When you've been minimized and marginalized your whole life, your ego may be shattered. When you've been told to put others' needs before your own every day of your life, your sense of self worth may be so low that a rebuilding process is exactly what your ego needs to heal.

There are may ways to repair one's ego and to heal the self including expressive arts, solitude, yelling and improvisation.

Another technique is yoga, especially if we adjust our approach celebrate individuality. 

My latest yoga video explores this approach in a yin yoga sequence that's woven with verse #69 from The Radiance Sutras, as translated by Lorin Roche.

Sutra #69 

Meditate on the Self as being
Vast as the sky,
A body of energy
Extending forever in all directions
Above, below, all around.

In the embrace of infinite space,
Awaken to your true form,
Divine creative energy
Revealing herself as you.

Our time on our yoga mat is a unique time of self care. When we spend our days caring for others, this may be the only time we ever take just for ourselves.

What's your experience of suppression and/or liberation of your ego? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below the YouTube video.