In yoga there is this debate over who owns it and which style is best or “right.”
Topics on what is traditional and therefore true can be heard across the country & there are even rifts over what people are wearing or how they are practicing their devotion.
If you haven’t heard at some point in the past a twinge of spite on the tongue of many a yogi when they say the word ‘Bikram’ I’d be surprised. There is even atake back yoga revolution happening right under our down-dogs-!! (For the record I’m leading you all astray and sucking the life out of yoga because I’m a liberal western teacher…or so the party line goes)
What is most shocking in all of this is that yoga is the one thing that I turned to in order to get away from the suffocating labels and foisted rituals of my past. Breathing on the mat was where I discovered the most complicated and beautiful pieces of myself and as the tears flowed and the baggage started to dissolve I was in a safe space to acknowledge it and move on (carrying forth only what I deemed useful)
It’s Us vs Them
Effort is appreciated and we are drawn like moths to the flame when people exceed our expectations, excite us, and drive us to question. This reverence can often turn to contempt when these same people push us past our comfort zone or start to veer off the center line. We like shinny, just make sure it is the right color and it goes with my outfit please. We extol the virtues of those who push our limits until the man in the mirror becomes something too uncomfortable to handle and we have to start feeling things we didn’t anticipate.
Its a damn shame really.
A great many things are a matter of convergence. Humans are more complex than we care to admit. It’s easy to revolt against say, Hitler or that crazy man from Libia without taking into account the context of their actions. History is not created in a wormhole. Matters of politics, religion, and power are never simply black and white. The same is true for yoga.
I remember my senior year in high school, 17, having a meal with the then Governor of Texas, George W. Bush. He chatted with my table and saw that my glass was empty. Since chivalry is not dead and he is a true cowboy he got up and walked over to the sidebar to pick up a pitcher and then he refilled my iced tea. I am led to say because of that experience, I think he’s a nice guy…. He also spent every vacation he took on his own ranch to clear his head chopping wood and saved taxpayer money. (Just saying)
When we choose to pigeon hole our fellow travelers we also put ourselves into seemingly neat little boxes with Martha Stewart labels and clear distinctions. The danger in that is it might cause us to shy away from self exploration and unexpected insight. If we are busy arguing over why Ashtanga is better than Kundalini or why Kripalu should be at odds with Vinyasa then we are taking valuable energy away from our practice. We are giving away our power!
Every one of us at one point was a little soon to be born bundle of joy in some powerful woman’s body. We were loved and adored, a little worried over, and we were all named and in many cases expected and celebrated. Who drooled and wet themselves? Plato, Darwin, HRH Dalai Lama, and the human at the computer right now…
In spite of that We all grew up and We became the sum of our actions. Who owns yoga? You do. I do. We do. Those that practice and benefit from the practice do. Our families and lovers and co-workers do. We all do. It’s malleable and will transform you. It cannot be put into a box. Like any of the best ideas of our time it will continue to evolve like great art and fine wine. Yoga belongs to the people. It is there for our perusal and enjoyment. It will push your buttons and leave you exhausted and wanting more (like great s*x)
What?! Yoga and Sex?! Well is that not what all the fuss was about over in India with Shiva Rea? They just got all up in arms over a strong woman vibrating on a current of pure prana swaying to the muse in her heart. Who cares what she was wearing? If she were in a Burka it wouldn’t have been any different. It is provocative that kind of power. The Tantrics know it, the Natives know it. Yogis know it. The only other raw power that we allow ourselves to contemplate and sometimes enjoy is that dirty little word s*x. Well, maybe also race cars and football.
Raw power is sexy. What we do with that power can be nobel or scary. It can also be a million other things.
I just can’t be bothered to argue about who is right and wrong. Too busy building a tribe and working out my insecurities on the mat for that kind of distraction. Too focused to care if I’m wearing the latest style or if my hair is in the right place for my FB profile pick (though I will admit that I love Eyeliner Yogi!)
The second we start bikering over who owns what and who is right or wrong we loose our ability to harness our power for the greater good. So put your prana where your mouth is and start the hard fight. Work it out on the mat folks and think sexy! I double up-dog dare ya….