November 21, 2013

I Heart Gay Yoga! ~ Kirstie Bender Segarra

“I’ll tell you this—religion is far more of a choice than homosexuality.

And the protections we have for religion—we protect religion! And talk about a lifestyle choice.

That is absolutely a choice.

Gay people don’t choose to be gay.

At what age did you choose to not be gay?”

~ Jon Stewart

In my last piece for elephant journal, I wrote about my favorite word to use teaching yoga—neutral.

I was showing the importance of neutrality with regard to alignment.

However, I find myself facing my internal truth, satya. When it comes to the subject of being gay and doing yoga, I will not remain neutral.

I teach in a diverse and multicultural environment. We are all about accepting each other and offering a supportive, creative, loving and healing environment for learning. It is not about having preferences for a certain religion, sexuality, gender or ethnicity.

Before I go into the story further, I want to state that I do recognize that cultural differences influence the judgments presented below. However, as yoga teachers living in the west, we have to consider how our views integrate with our own culture.

A month ago, a student stated that a previous teacher in the yoga world directly requested that she hide the fact that she was a lesbian if she ever worked with that teacher’s guru.

This has haunted my mind ever since. Yes, this teacher lives in the west and the guru is in India. However, they both teach and travel throughout the world. This really hurt the feelings of the lesbian student.

With my gay guru’s encouragement, I am standing on my soapbox!

I usually play it safe, by focusing on anatomy and physiology—my strengths. However, this time I have to say: WTF? How can a guru or a yoga teacher display such bias?

One of the teachings in yoga is Tat Tvam Asi, which means ”I am you and you are me.” I have always cherished this teaching, along with namaste, which means “the inner light in me honors the inner light in you.” In other words, we are all one love. Thank the goddess for that.

Personally, it is difficult for me to find love and compassion for the teacher who said such things. I would prefer that they nama-stay the hell away from me. Of course, this is after drinking a single shot mocha, which makes me punchy.

In case you are wondering, according to an anonymous blogger:

“Gender is determined immediately upon fertilization. The 23rd pair of chromosomes establishes the sex of the baby. The mother’s egg contains an X chromosome, while the father’s sperm carries either another X or a Y chromosome. An XX combination means your baby is female and an XY combination means your baby is male.

This means that the baby’s gender is determined before it is even considered a fetus. Even though during the first few weeks of fetal development your baby’s internal and external genital structures are the same, the organs will eventually change. Your baby’s gonads will either become ovaries or testicles. The phallus will become either a clitoris or a penis, and the genital folds will become either labia or scrotum.

This all depends on whether or not testosterone is present. Testosterone will be present in embryos with a Y chromosome, and male sex organs will begin to form. If testosterone is not present, female organs will develop, making female the ‘default sex’ for human beings.”

As a fellow biology professor said, “We all begin as females.” That is, until the testosterone arrives. Bless the goddess in all of us.

My preference is to practice acceptance and recognize and honor the beauty in all of us, although it’s challenging with regard to the teacher who was biased.

In the guise of logic of math and science, where

Men die.
Socrates is a man (or, Socrates is mortal).
Socrates will die.

Or, as Gregory Bateson described, the logic in grass is the logic of schizophrenics, metaphor and living things. It goes:

Men die.
Grass dies.
Men are grass.

Or, in the logic of the world of yoga, where “yoga” is to yoke or encounter union with the divine, it follows that the divine was female first (according to biology). Since we are all female in the beginning, that makes us all lesbians. We are all gay! If we practice yoga, then we practice gay yoga.

Yoga is female.
Lesbians are gay.
Yoga is gay.

There you have it; end of discussion.


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Assistant Editor: Michelle Margaret/Editor: Bryonie Wise

{Image: Tumblr}

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Kirstie Bender Segarra