However, like all major philosophies and religions, some members of the yoga community are guilty of doing the exact opposite of what they advocate.
There will always be those who—despite theoretically knowing what is right and wrong or teaching it for a living—still have trouble integrating their yoga practice into their personal lives.
In reality, most of us have some aspect of our lives we have trouble applying yoga to, and truly this is where our practice comes in. For some of us it’s eating; for others it is asana practice, alcohol, sleep, relationships or business. In fact, I recently had the opportunity to bring my practice into a situation which arose in my own yoga business, and that’s the reason for this article.
The definition of plagiarism is, “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.”
We are all collectors of ideas to a certain extent, always extrapolating bits and pieces of truth from our experiences and applying them to our worldview and lifestyle. But there is a big difference between modeling behaviors, and actually taking someone’s hard work and ideas and “passing them off as one’s own.”
When we do not observe asteya (non-stealing), we cause hurt not only to the other, but also to ourselves by knocking the foundation of the yamas (foundations for living morally) out from under our feet. We may gain an edge on our appearance momentarily, but as the Buddha says, “there are three things that cannot long be hidden, the sun the moon and the truth.” We must remember the importance of giving due credit.
In my case, I worked hard over several years to create a brand image for my yoga business which was in line with my lifestyle. I dug deep, thought hard and did my best to create something completely authentic, from my heart. It felt great, and I was elated when friends and strangers alike told me they were inspired by my work and had begun to make moves in their own lives because of it.
I was elated until I discovered this inspiration was being taken to another level by another teacher trying to pass off the essence of my brand as her own. Initially I thought, what a coincidence! But as it continued for months, and the mimicry began to hit closer to home, I began to feel hurt, angry and confused.
I thought I was crazy. Why on earth would this person want to take from me, when they were already so magnificent on their own?
After seeking the council of my friends and family—despite gaining more insight regarding the situation—they reassured me this was indeed what was going on. This is the yoga business, so I didn’t want to be too possessive over my work or ideas. Besides, they were never really mine to begin with and the sutras teach us to “be glad for those who are prospering, compassionate towards those who are suffering and indifferent toward whoever or whatever is giving you a hard time.”
In my case then, I had two choices: be glad for them—after all, they seemed to be doing quite well—or be indifferent.
Initially I chose to be glad. I reached out and offered to work together, and I commented and liked their posts online in hopes of both diffusing what was happening, and replacing it with love. Although it seemed to slow them down for awhile, it eventually picked back up again.
Then I tried to take the indifferent route, but just couldn’t seem to master the art of indifference. Rather, it morphed into some type of resistance, and as we all know, what we resist persists.
So why was this one hard to let go of? There was obviously some wisdom that needed to be imparted here, and the situation wasn’t going to go away until it was dealt with. It was clear this situation merited some soul searching, so I tried another route: I chose to look inside. My flow coach, Oren Harris, once wisely said, “The apparent conflict with others is only a reflection of your own negotiation with yourself.”
With plagiarism as the main source of conflict in my world, this could only mean I was being inauthentic with my very own self.
With this truth staring me in the face, I started to become keenly aware of aspects of my inner world which were not completely aligned with my truth, and I began to observe how I was projecting these misalignments. I also started to notice where I was taking credit for my yogic lifestyle rather than being humble and offering gratitude to those who had passed it down to me. In truth, there were tons of ways I could be more authentic, and in truth, it’s an ongoing process.
Nonetheless, the situation opened up into an opportunity to become aware of an internal misalignment, and to transform hurt into compassion, understanding and acceptance for both self and other. After all, we only have control over our own monkey minds.
But more importantly, it reminded me in the face of any difficulty, there is always an opportunity to get closer to my truth. And from here it becomes clear if this particular lesson allowed for a blossoming of the soul, then I have nothing but love and gratitude to the one who tilled the soil in my mind.
Britta Trubridge (B.A. Psychology), creator of B-Tru Yoga™, is a 500h RYT of the Sivananda Vedanta School, a 300h certified Ayurvedic Counselor and a Reiki Master with specialties in acupressure, crystal and chakra therapies. Britta is also an avid freediver and is the yoga specialist for the elite Vertical Blue freediving school. Britta’s synergistic work in combining yoga and freediving has allowed for a great depth of experience with internal flexibility, the bandhas, pranayama and mental artistry, which forms the basis of her methods. Britta regularly contributes to MindBodyGreen, Origin Magazine, elephant journal and Greenster and is an ambassador for Yogasana Yoga Mats and Ravishing Jewelry. Britta currently holds workshops and retreats worldwide.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel
Assistant Editor: Jennifer Spesia
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