Yoga reaches beyond judgment.
“Yoga is changing. Everything is always changing, evolving. Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure.”
~ Shunryu Suzuki
There is no doubt that yoga has definitely taken a turn, is continuing to grow and becoming more and more mainstream. Is this a good thing? It means more people are trying yoga and whether it is because they want to look hot in their stretch pants or pull off a kickass arm balance…who cares? If they are moving and learning from their practice they are benefiting nonetheless.
A lot of people are concerned about the commercialism of yoga with its the true essence being lost. Yoga is sacred, however not everyone wants to go all out spiritual during their flexibility training.
Some just want to stretch and feel good.
I think ‘true yoga’ means being true to yourself; if you’re doing something that you love and hold close to your heart there’s nothing superficial about it. I love my perky yoga butt; I also love the clarity I feel after my practice.
I definitely respect the traditional teachings of yoga and think it’s important for us to know where this wonderful practice we call yoga comes from. If you want to carry the Bhagavad Gita around in your knapsack so you can read it on your lunch break, great. However, if you have never heard of it and are like Bhagavad-what, so be it.
The last thing I read was Cosmopolitan; this doesn’t mean I am a ‘bad’ yogi or a poser. I also teach high school girls and reading quotes to them in Sanskrit would hardly seem relevant and more than likely, leave them wondering what in the world it could mean.
When I moved back to my hometown upon completing my teacher training, I asked my grandma if she would like to do yoga sometime. She responded with a “No thanks, I don’t do pretzel yoga.” Fair enough.
Yoga is different for everyone and the right class or teacher is out there for everyone.
Yoga is about non-judgment; it is what compelled me to write this article.
Once, I was in an advanced class and often requested to practice some of the more complex postures I was trying to learn. This triggered some of the other students to take an attitude towards me as if I were trying to show off. Why would I ask to practice the poses I was having trouble mastering to show off?
Unfortunately, my teacher also made subtle hints questioning my yogic intentions. Keeping in mind that we cannot pass judgment on those who judge, I eventually removed myself from the class.
Yoga is challenging and that’s why it inspires me. I believe as a qualified practitioner my goal should be to eventually get into the full stage of multiple postures. Why forward bend day after day, never believing that one day you can touch your toes?
We grow with practice.
In no way am I suggesting to push and shove your way into poses or to stress out when you can’t quite get it right, although I have been guilty of both. Honestly though, who isn’t?
Through my yoga practice, I have learned the importance of patience and commitment. Rather than looking at how far I have to go, I appreciate how far I have come.
As yogis we find our way. Those who want to delve into the deep ancient roots of yoga will. Others may float on the surface of a more physical practice. Some of us will be lucky enough to experience both.
There is no right or wrong way to do yoga. It’s a very personal journey, life’s paradox. The only wrong is standing for something you don’t truly believe in. To everyone worried about the future of yoga: it is not being lost, but being found—and then lost again.
Yoga comes from the heart as well the thousand year old books. So the next time you feel compelled to judge whether or not someone is practicing or teaching ‘true’ yoga, ask yourself this: is this person being authentic and practicing something they love and believe in?
Tamara Lee is a 21 year old yoga/fitness instructor, writer, and stay at home girlfriend from Quadra Island, BC.
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Assistant Ed: Edith Lazenby