Beware; this post is full of irony, judgment, frustration and my personal thoughts on Yoga.
‘’Good morning, yogis and yoginis! (Well, since, we practice Yoga we have the right to call ourselves that way, don’t we? Some of us might even call ourselves, as yogi masters, as well …OM…) . Today, we’re going to practice Christian Yoga (wtf?), followed by, Power yoga, then, Acro yoga, Forest yoga, Hot yoga, Vinyasa flow, Partner yoga and, lastly, Bikram yoga. Don’t you worry, we’ll follow the trend. Now don’t forget to bring your rubber-free, yoga mats (only 70euros, designed and decorated with beautiful chakra symbols) and make sure to follow the organic diet I have recommended in my health/yoga/beauty/lifestyle blog. There are, also, some wonderful yoga pants you could buy, in order to feel more comfortable in the class…it’s a bargain, really, only $49.99. Now allow me to take you onto a journey of self discovery; I am a certified yoga instructor by the yoga alliance organization (thank god, I paid 1.500-3000 euro, so I can be eligible and allowed by this organization to teach Yoga, worldwide.) Now I see we are only women in this class (oh wait, there is one male also, surprise-surprise) so we are going to practice some asana good for menstruation, and to lose all the necessary weight, we gained during the holidays…Summer is coming and we must stay fit and beautiful. But first an introduction: Yoga means Union, it is an ancient practice originated in India, but since we are in the West, we have made some slight changes for our own comfort…In fact, let’s just forget about India, that was thousands of year ago anyways..Namaste’’
Yoga might mean Union but is also a multi-billionaire industry nowadays. Mostly, evident in the US.
I remember my early shy step into this path…
It was a November afternoon, three years ago, I decided to go to my first yoga class. I remember having a walk in the forest with my dearest friend and Blanca, the naughty dog. While looking at the trees, I told her that it was about time for me to learn how to breathe properly and keep my body in a straight line…well, why don’t you try yoga, then?
I had no real clue, whatsoever, of how a yoga class could be. However I had this image in my head that Yoga should be taught through a true and respectful relationship between the teacher and the student (one to one), and certainly with no money involved. So when I expressed my desire of how I would like to start my Yoga journey at the owner of the yoga studio, he looked at me as a freak, he laughed and then he said ‘’that is impossible for now.’’ Although, disappointed, I entered the shala (after paying my class fee) and was greeted by a middle aged woman and five female practitioners. I was the only male, and immediately, started feeling a bit awkward. The instructor looked at me and said ’’first rule of this class is, Inhale and surrender.’’
Inhale and surrender… ok, I can do that…then mantra chanting, meditation, warm ups, followed by Surya Namaskar, then so many animals have followed , accepting all, trying to figure out what the heck am I doing here? Inhale, exhale, welcoming the animals in my body: a pigeon, a cat, a cow, the dolphin, a cobra, the eagle, a downward facing dog, the fish and a camel. Stay with the breath… and then I was transformed into a warrior, a lord of the fishes, a wheel, a bow, a boat, a cosmic dancer, a child and a tree…oh when the tree posture came, I felt certain I was in the right place. No, I no longer cared that I paid a fee, that I was surrounded by women, that I didn’t really know what I was doing there. Letting go…My body and mind took me places I never thought capable of.
After three consistent years of practice, I feel, I have accomplished so many things due to Yoga. There is no point in naming them as I am the only one who can truly identify them. Besides, I doubt that you are still reading this post.
I try not to talk about yoga to my friends or my parents, although it is a passion, an addiction to me, because I feel this is a journey inwards and only those who practice it can truly understand. Also it is changing all the time. The journey I mean. Sometimes I feel happy, others frustrated. Sometimes I feel complete, others empty. I am a human being, full of capabilities and strength but also full of emotions, desires and weaknesses.
However, there are times, male friends ask me how the girls in the class are, or female friends ask me if that yoga instructor was hot , and stuff like that, which really make me feel uncomfortable, as I don’t really pay attention to all this crap. If I want to meet a girl I will go to a party or a bar and certainly not to a yoga class. Also, I know many people who thought of starting yoga but felt unworthy as they are not fit enough, stretched enough. Well, blame the media and the yoga industry for that. If you do a little search on line about yoga what you’ll find, is a bunch of happy, smiley, gym freaks, showing off their –perfect-asana demonstration. They all talk about enlightenment, pure bliss, spirituality but they have polished their teeth, wore their makeup, had been photographed with their expensive yoga accessories near by a lake, in a meditative posture and, also, advertised their classes and fees. How contradictory is that? How self centered are they? Can’t they see that they look like a product ready to be bought and consumed?
Ok, yes I know, it is the Time we live in. Everything is a product and you must certainly play by the rules. You need to advertise the product and follow the current trend. But yoga is not a product. Yoga is certainly not the ‘hot’ women wearing tight pants, making videos, half naked performing the bridge pose, seriously, this looks like soft porn in to my eyes, not a bridge pose. If I wanted to see women wearing bikinis, there are other sites and videos for this.
Up until now, although I stopped paying for classes, for more than two years, – I practice on my own- I always keep in mind to practice with awareness. And I owe that to my wonderful first teacher, who truly showed me a beautiful and introductory path to yoga. (Mind you, she is not ‘’certified’’ by these yoga institutions and organizations)
We must remember that yoga is not only for women, nor men
Not only for the fit and gym freaks
Not only for happy and positive people
Not only for people who call themselves spiritual
Not for hipsters and vegetarians
Yoga indeed is union, a solitary journey
A path full of ups and downs
One day you might accomplish a headstand, the other day you might fall
Why is that? Why have you fallen? Listen to your body each day, what does it say to you?
The important thing is to keep making that appointment between you and your body
Between you and your mind
Between you and your limitations
Finding the balance and inner peace
Finding your lost breath
Finding your ritual.
Finding gratitude and respect
Infinite love and appreciation.
It’s all there. Deep inside you. Tired of hiding.
Your inner small god.
Remember to breathe; remember to practice every time and everything, with awareness.
Remember we go to a Yoga class so we can have our practice. We are not going to a Yoga class so that, other people see us, practice.
Remember, we should keep our practice, therapeutic and pleasant. No competition. Respect our boundaries.
Remember that every posture with a breath is a Yoga posture.
Remember to let go…
Every day is a challenge.
note: there are (fortunately) numerous people, yoga instructors and online information that don’t perceive Yoga as a product, and treat Yoga with respect and, certainly, there are, also, those practitioners that may have started Yoga for the wrong reasons but soon discovered its true benefits and the spirituality within the practice and the path itself.. Lastly, i would like to recommend a funny film/documentary Kumare (2011). I think it is relevant to today’s confusing post.