I’m starting to wonder about yoga, the practice I love and the people I adore.
There was a major yoga scandal last year, actually there were about six of them, but not one was mentioned in the yoga publications. Not one.
There was a book that documented serious injuries that could be caused by yoga, which was roundly poo-pooed by yogis (even by me). However, I have adjusted my teaching to be safer with the more dangerous poses.
There are studios who take advantage of teachers, and teachers who take advantage of students, and an industry selling teacher trainings, clothes, merchandising, marketing, retreats, festivals, videos, books, crystals, balancing bracelets, and a bunch of other stuff that promise to make you yogic.
But let me make one thing perfectly clear: I love yoga. I love it even though it is not perfect, and I love the teachers who are human. I love this practice the way a mother loves a child: unconditionally.
So when a yoga media company recently claimed to be a “real voice,” I had to sit up and take notice. Like every other form of yoga media, this program has never, not once, put anyone even slightly controversial in its lineup. It’s all been love and light. That’s a real voice?
There is a lot of fear in yoga. Studios are afraid that if students discover that yoga is not perfect, they will quit. Yoga magazines are afraid that if readers learn that enlightenment takes work, they will cancel their subscriptions.
And everyone is afraid of going out of business, well except for me, because as a writer I don’t have much of a business, so what the hell…
Then I got to thinking, what does it mean to have a real voice in yoga?
- >> A real voice in yoga does not judge others who are not “love and light.” Darkness is the most straightforward path to the light because you can see the flickering star.
- >>A real voice in yoga values different perspectives. Rather than drown them out with criticism, or with silence, they welcome the conversation. There is nothing to fear in education.
- >>A real voice in yoga speaks from the heart, even if the things we say may cause discomfort.
- >>A real voice appreciates differences because we know there’s more than one way to be right.
- >>A real voice in yoga is not all peace and happiness, because that is not reality, although it could be about peace and happiness at times.
- >>A real voice means saying the unpopular thing. Like certain yoga brands don’t appreciate older yogis, or that some people in yoga are occasionally mean, because we want to make things better.
- >>A real voice means you are not afraid of change, and you welcome it if it makes things right.
Therefore, if someone is telling you they are a real voice in yoga, and that everything is love and light, and the only thing that matters is love, and people are always good, and the world is always sunshine, and if we chant our hearts are one, and that everyone else is un-yogic, and that your butt looks good in Luon, run. That’s right, run.
If you want to grow, then you want a teacher and a voice that will tell you the truth. When you fall off the path they will guide you back to where you are going. They will tell you when your pose kind of sucks, and help make it right. They will show you the way and they will love you unconditionally.
A real voice doesn’t ignore reality. A real voice appreciates your gifts and your flaws, and loves you anyway. That’s a real voice in yoga.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel