Kino's Yogi Assignment Blog

How to Walk the Line Between the Spiritual Bypass and the Spiritual Path

Spiritual Bypassing is an important term for every yoga student to get familiar with. Understanding this concept is integral to your yoga journey as it can be what’s possibly holding you back from your spiritual growth through yoga. 

Spiritual Bypassing was originally introduced by John Welwood in the 1980s to describe the process when certain concepts of the yogi’s spiritual path are co-opted and used for avoidance, repression, and other negative mechanisms. All of the concepts that we learn about in yoga – the patience, the acceptance, the enlightenment – can be bypassed by our behavioral routines without us even realizing it.

Do you ever find yourself thinking negative thoughts? 

We all do. Yoga teaches us that we can’t have the light without the dark, but you should never feel guilty or be embarrassed by your negative thoughts. If you do feel guilty, then you are experiencing a Spiritual Bypass.

That’s because it’s hard to accept your shadow shelf, especially if you’re stuck in a cycle of negativity. In the moments when you feel insecure, frustrated, even jealous, it can be hard to accept some of the metaphysical and spiritual concepts of yoga. These ideas that “everything is fine, just breathe” can feel ingenuine, even flippant. We can’t pretend that problems don’t exist, but we can take control of the way we feel.

The spiritual tools of yoga are meant to give you the confidence to go into the deepest darkness of our shadow selves with the understanding that nothing is permanent. I share the ways these tools work for me and how you can implement them into your own yoga routine. This way, when a Spiritual Bypass tries to tell you that nothing matters, you can practice finding that balance between the bypass and your spiritual path. 

The middle ground between the Spiritual Bypass and the Path to Enlightenment is not easy to find. There are still days when I get on my yoga mat feeling angry and insecure about my poses or my body. The trick is to recognize when you are bypassing your emotions and learning how to sit with them instead. 

Here are 3 tools to sit with discomfort—

Tune into your breathing. 

Listen to your body. 

Practice non-reactivity.  

With practice these tools will help you find a happy medium between your lightest and darkest self. You have to have faith in yourself and put in the work to build that strong foundation for yourself, otherwise your yoga journey will be anything but easy. It’s time to take the concepts of open consciousness and apply them to the nitty-gritty of your real world. Are you ready?

For more on spiritual bypassing, tune in to my podcast episode on this topic—