August 7, 2013

Minding My Own Yoga Business. ~ Annie Au

As a starter yogini, I’m constantly learning new things on a daily basis.

Quite early on in my journey I realized that Krishnamacharya was the pioneer of yoga and not Briohny Kate Smith and that Mysore is not a muscle pain reliever. Entering this field of infinite knowledge and ancient history, wearing lululemon and having an expensive membership no longer suffice me as a yoga devotee. Eager to up my game, I’m lapping up every ounce of yoga knowledge I can get.

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of learning a new terminology. It opened up my small but mighty eyes and introduced me to a brand new yogic territory.

It is called the Yoga Police.

Classified as an oxymoron in the English language, it could be used as an adjective or a noun. Essentially, a yoga police is not an actual occupation nor has it contributed significantly in the history of yoga. It could be someone who’ve been practicing yoga for a long time (or at least appeared to be) and dedicate himself/herself to the maintenance of spiritual order. The responsibilities of a yoga police include but not limited to the following:

– To question all forms of yoga other than their own.

– To prevent and detect any spiritual crime such as Savasanna held under 15 minutes; practices engaged on full/new moon days, female menstrual cycles and Saturdays.

– To maintain a serious composure at all times and preferably speak in an extremely slow tempo while applying Sanskrit terms intermittently. In a casual conversation, yoga polices mustn’t give away their Samahdi status but do imply to the others that they often reach a transcendent experience in their daily meditation.

– To wear attire made out of 100% bamboo, hemp or grass; accessorize with mala beads that are purchased in third world countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. (Bonus if it was purchased from a monk or at least from a souvenir store in a temple.)

– To have visited India at least once in their lifetime, regardless if it was the Four Seasons in Goa or a half-day layover in Chennai on a Cruise. To increase legitimacy, yoga polices might take photos of themselves doing any yoga poses in India and post them on Facebook with an inspiring quote from the Dalai Lama.

– Lastly, to warn any aspiring souls the danger of all yoga teacher trainings; educate them that one can only become a yoga teacher after at least a decade of devoted practice and have learned from direct lineage of a prominent Indian guru.

Realizing that there are such bodies out there maintaining the order of yoga and all adherent spiritual practices, I sincerely thank them for their pro-bono work and dedication to this sacred spiritual ground.

Who knows? Without them, there might be yogis in loincloths raiding organic cafés, under-aged yogis intoxicating themselves with spirulina shots—and god forbid those who attempt to barge through the Full Primary series without binding in Marychasana D!

Believe me…yoga polices materialize when you least expect them.

I was once told by a man to hush in a sauna because my whispering voice disturbed his meditation. It was a community pool. Or that other time, when I was still teaching dance, an elderly Jewish lady barged into my pre-school ballet class demanding me to finish ten minutes early. Apparently, there was a yoga class afterwards and she needed time to relax on her mat. I guess pre-savasana was part of her practice.

Yup. They appear out of thin air.

So often I hesitate to get in depth with a fellow Ashtanga yogi about my rebellious Rocket practice fear that he or she is an YP undercover. Not that I can’t defend my be-loved high energy Rocket series, it’s just that why should I?

Minding my own yoga business preserves my inner peace and better yet keeps me at bay from being judgmental. After all, what makes one form of yoga better than the other?

Every system has a value; no system is perfect.

Some people criticize the legitimacy of yoga teacher trainings claiming that they are non-traditional, unauthentic, and ragingly commercialized. According to some, the one and only way to become a yoga teacher is to spend an extensive part of your life in places like Kpjayi or Rimyi until guruji gives you the green light to set, launch, and soar. Those who fail to do so should forever give up their hopes and dreams of becoming a yoga teacher.

Pretty serious, huh?

By all means, I agree that learning from a well-reliable institution is essential and passing on the lineage of ancient yoga history will benefit the future yoga generations. Keep in mind that our goal is to harvest the seed of yoga- the union of mind and body. Nonetheless, there are numerous great yoga teachers in this world helping others regardless of how they got certified.

Good yoga teachers are the ones that teach from the bottom of their hearts.

I admit that being a rookie yogini has its advantages. Having a memory of a newborn and a thirst for knowledge like teenage boys for liquor, I extract the seeds of virtue from all yoga forms and tenderly plant them in my inner yoga pot in hopes that one day it will blossom into something substantial.

“Calm silence, sincerity, and courteous words, whether one is agreeing or disagreeing with others, mark the person who knows how to behave.” ~ Yogananda

Well for now, until I too can frequently reach a transcendent state in my meditations, I will hold off my application as a yoga police.


Your Rookie Yogini


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Ed: Elysha Anderson

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