Cliques haven’t been left in the past quite yet…
Back in high school, I was a bit of a loner. With all the groups to choose from, I could never fully immerse myself into one. I loved to dance and I was a cheerleader, so I could mingle with the popular kids, but felt extremely shy and insecure around this “In-crowd.” I could hang out with the “bad girls” and try a puff of a cigarette, but I was always too much of a “goodie two shoes” to last.
Mostly, I liked sitting next to the rejects, nerds, and hipster doofuses. It was a chance for me to just let go of the need to be someone else and just be myself.
Today, I’ve had just as hard of a time choosing a Yoga “Group” to hang out with. I am inspired by the open-hearts of the Anusara Yogis, the dedication of the Ashtanga Yogis, and the approachability of the Viniyoga Yogis. I always feel a little like I did after a night of hanging with the stoners after a Kundalini session, but I love them and that practice too. There are so many choices, that sometimes I feel like I am back in high school trying to decide what crowd to follow.
I am drawn to the devotion and movement I find in the Prana Flow style, developed by Shiva Rea. This style always feels most liberating to my body and playful spirit. Although, as I attended my last training with her, I couldn’t help but feel like I did every day at 3:45pm cheerleading practice; the women at this workshop and the few men were perfectly primped, styled, and sleeked for the yoga practice. From manicure to pedicure, sporting Om symbols on their long nails. Many even had accents.
I wish I had an accent…maybe I should just make one up.
I started to feel myself sinking into my yoga mat, and not in a good way—in the judgmental, “I don’t belong here” kind of way. Thankfully, from years of practice, I was able to let go of that dirty little voice of judgment and just be comfortable in my own skin. After all, I was judging everyone else because of my insecurities.
Prior to the last retreat I went on with this group, I hid in the background until, to save energy and fuel, I decided to carpool with a couple of these “Shiva Divas.” I was forced out of my comfort zone and loner mentality, and into making conversation and friendships.
On the last night, one of the Shiva Divas told me that she was glad to have gotten to know me. She mentioned that she would have just had this image of me as a nice girl that smiles a lot, instead of the…(a little mystery is good-what happens in LA, stays in LA).
It was true—these “Shiva Diva” friends of mine were so much more than what was portrayed on their beautiful outsides. One had been through the cancer journey, and another one had amazing adventures traveling the world through her photography art.
When I first began this yoga journey, I thought that we were all the dejected, depressed, loners, or hippies in high school that desperately needed something to tell us we are ok as we are. As yoga has become part of pop culture and attracted the popular girls, it has broken off into groups, and become part of mass marketing, I realize that no matter what group we belong to, we all need to be reminded that we are okay as we are.
The reason I could never commit to a “group” was because I did not want to be a follower, but I was also missing out on the sadhana (community), and depth of relationships that is an important part of our practice. By sitting with different teachers and groups, I have realized that we are all the same.
As I sat listening to my teacher talk, this time I did not hear some ethereal yogini speaking.
I heard Truth.
Truth that had passed over my Viniyoga teachers, Integral teachers, Anusara teachers, Ashtanga teachers, and my own lips. The Truth of Yoga is that we are all the same in different packages. Still, I think I am a Hipster-Doofus at heart.
Dani McGuire is a yoga teacher and asana addict that loves Love, Life, Family, Food, God, and, of course, Yoga. “Since I am unable to quiet the mental chatter and control thirst for earthly pleasures I live, write, and laugh and my human-ness.”