So we had a little festive gathering this weekend at our place. And, as with every party, when yoga ‘geek’s are in da house – ultimately a mat gets rolled out and exaggerated feats of strength, arm balances and yoga tricks result on the dance floor.
Now this party was a combination of friends from all walks of life. Namely the yoga crowd. And, the non yoga crowd. Mingling as One. (As if we were anything but. Though how quickly we forget it sometimes.) An interesting and arguably ‘passionate’ discussion erupted between two friends, each from a different side of the divide, about yoga.
My dear, super-smart friend, who I had always (wrongfully) assumed didn’t really ‘get’ yoga questioned my other, (in my mind) well informed yoga-teacher friend about the culture of yoga. The culture of it just didn’t sit right with her. In her words, she’d been doing yoga in the park since she was 8 years old. She didn’t understand why there was all this hoopla about how to do it. Can’t anybody just do some stretching to relax?
I instantly felt myself getting my back up as I listened with one outstretched ear from across the room. Didn’t she ‘get’ it?! We were all on a spiritual quest! There was so much un-quantifiable about our experiences on the mat – why couldn’t she just accept that without requiring her conscious mind to understand the science of it. Heart over head. Feel over-think.
But over the course of the next day I continued to ponder her declarations. Why were there so many rules about yoga? How we do it. Where we do it. What the cool studio to go to is. Why internally rotating your thighs in supta virasana is better than neutral alignment. Should you inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth or just do nostril breathing? Does chanting at the start of class soothe the nervous system for a smoother vinyasa or is it better if you chant at the end? What if you don’t chant at all? (Oh gawd – heaven forbid!)
We’re such a bunch of yoga nerds. There is so much to obsess about. It can be exhausting trying to work out the “rights” and “wrongs”. Ultimately the toxicity of judgement permeates even the most (self)righteous of communities. By trying to be inclusive, we can simultaneously exclude. But ultimately we all have to work out what works for us in the end. What is the best fit for each of us. So you love Bikram. Awesome! I had my love affair with the dude at one stage too. So you hate Camel pose? Damn girl, have I felt where you’re coming from. Sure we can come up with some Freudian analysis about how your heart chakra is probably closed but really people – grow up. If that’s your view, great! If you believe something else – sweet. We’re all on a zillion different meandering paths heading to the same place. Side note – it took all my effort to call it ‘Camel’ over Ustrasana. The yogeek in me likes teaching sanskrit. There’s something oh-so romantic and mysterious about the vedic language.. but let’s be honest. If I say Ustrasana and only half of you know what talking about – it’s like teaching preaching in Japanese when your audience speaks only Swedish. Isn’t the point to share yoga because we get glory from the benefits we see from it in our own lives? To share and make it accessible to as many people as possible? Yoga for every body. Yoga is about chillaxing. Sure it’s got a lot of layers (8 limbs some might argue). But perhaps for a moment, we can simply take our own advice, chill out, and just peel it back to the ‘I do yoga because I do yoga.’
Non-reactivity is my practice off the mat. Equinimity is my yoga. So as it turns out, my non-yogic friend is actually quite yogic after all. For there is a guru within each of us. There is a lesson in each experience. You just have to get past your small self to find it.
The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches.
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether
They had one, or not, upon thars.” – Dr. Seuss