Americans have bastardized yoga.
There I said it.
I don’t normally practice ranting, but alas, I am indulging myself for the betterment of human kind and in honor and respect for the sacred practice of yoga.
Yoga is an ancient tradition dating back to before we starting counting. It is a spiritual practice to unite and integrate your mind, body, and soul.
Yet, as we have done with so many things, we have found a way to “fast food-ize” even yoga.
My experience this week, brought my fast and furious fingers to the point that they couldn’t hold back any longer.
I practice yoga wherever I can, whenever it fits into my schedule. I found a Thursday morning class that nestled perfectly between walking the kids to the bus stop and my first appointment, and I loved my instructor. She seemed to know intuitively what to say to support me in getting into each position in the way that was most beneficial to me.
She’d say, “Shin on the floor” or “Elbows turned out and shoulders down” and it was the perfect tweak, at the perfect moment to have the position feel right. I’ll admit that I am a yoga snob, some teachers I connect with and others I don’t, but I always respect their practice.
My beloved “Ms.Thursday” is now taking a sabbatical. (This is an unwelcomed practice for my brain to remember it isn’t always about me and that the world does not bow to my wishes.) Of course she is doing something to forward the positive effects of yoga on our aging population, which is noble and serving, but my brain was still disappointed.
This week the new teacher shows up she’s perky and sweet and very fit. She has make up on and a wireless microphone. I knew this wasn’t going to go well.
I figured in my arrogant, know-it-all way, that I’d stay, close my eyes, meditate and do it my way in spite of her.
As I am awkwardly dancing between trying to meditate and practice my own version of yoga while trying to stop the barrage of thoughts in my head about how wrong this is, the instructor did the most extraordinary thing.
She said we were getting into a “new” version of Crow (Bakasana). She then told us to take a deep breath and then push our knees really hard to force them to stack.
I almost lost it.
Luckily the Buddhists have taught me to control my reactions, which helped me not look like a total jerk to the class…..but my thoughts were not very peaceful and kind.
There’s a fundamental truth about yoga that these fitness-at-all-cost instructors forget. Our goal on this planet is to integrate our source connection with our physical, mental, emotional and energetic bodies. As we develop spiritually, our physical bodies will integrate and we will naturally move into even the most difficult positions.
Forcing yoga is the equivalent of taking drugs to heal the physical body when the source of the illness is emotional. Westerners have turned yoga into something it is not. Yes, it can be good for stretching and strength building and maybe it is the only introduction to meditation some overly anxious human doings have at all, but please don’t call it yoga.
Just as tomatoes and chickens were not designed to be grown in factories with chemicals and hormones, and just as enlightenment cannot be effectively achieved in a weekend, yoga was not created to be just another way to look good in your skinny jeans.
Human beings have free will. We can all choose for ourselves. So just as I’ll choose the ugly misshapen organic tomato that tastes like the ones from my grandmother’s farm over the beautiful enormous miracle-gro ones that tastes like mud flavored mush, I’ll choose my real kundalini yoga in an old house downtown over the slick power yoga at the new flashy gym any day.
A special thank you to all of the practitioners and instructors at Rosemary Court Yoga, for your integrity, your heart and your mindful practice of authentic yoga.