December 14, 2014

Namaste: The New 4-Letter Word.

quiet, silence, naughty

Caution: Curse words ahead!


It began like a virus—the symptoms were small.

Barely noticeable.

An itch that went a bit deeper than could casually be scratched. A pause to wonder, “Is that real? Or am I being overly sensitive?”

But like any good virus, it spread.

It mutated.

It intensified.

A few too many cliquey hot yoga groups here. A bit too much Om merchandise-namaste-bitches-an-organic-yoga-rap-parody-meredith-baker-spiritual-gangster-music-video there.

Too many green juices. Far, far too many green juices.

And then there was the whole “John Galt” debacle.

And boom: The Era of the Passive Aggressive Yogi was born.

If you’ve been on social media, or in a mall, or an outdoor space or pretty much any upper-middle class demographic area on earth in the past four years, you have witnessed this phenomenon.

You may even be a part of it, like I am. (Although, hopefully, not a culprit.)

I can only speak from my experience, of course. But I have to wonder…

Yoga is a practice that I came to because of a desire to understand myself and the circumstances of life better. And actually, yoga is not unique in that way. People seek all kinds of things when they are trying to understand themselves, and their lives:

Exercise, lovers, marathons, drugs, work, television, knitting, food, volunteer work, alcohol… The list goes on.

The channel that we use to seek understanding has far less to do with our experience than how we choose to engage with it. After all, can we not understand new and different parts of ourselves by loving another person?

Can we gain a deeper understanding of our personal circumstances by witnessing another’s while doing volunteer work? Can we find camaraderie and affection, solitude and relaxation, in a glass of wine and a movie? During a long run or in a yoga practice (as each are moving meditations, it turns out), do we not maneuver through the channels of our minds in a deeper, more focused way?

The flip side, of course, is when we engage with these channels negatively.

Obsessive “love.” Abuse, contempt of, or taking advantage of those we give our time to. Becoming workaholics. Substance abuse, addiction to television, exercise, patterns and negative behaviors.

Because we fail to understand that these channels—these actions—are not the thing that gives us understanding, or everyone would be doing that one thing.

“Hello, I’d like three tennis lessons—I heard three tennis lessons will cure me of my childhood bullying issues. Thank you.”

Nope, but nice try.

Yoga, like everything else, is a channel. It is not an identity, a band aid or a one-step-fix-it cure for a lifetime.

It is not a “get out of jail free” card for bad behavior.

When we engage in bad behavior in life, we get called on our shit: for being obsessive, having a negative attitude, for being unfriendly.

In the yoga world, the Passive Aggressive Yogi virus has caused many people to think that by engaging in a yogic lifestyle, they are free of accountability for their bad behavior. People who don’t follow specific diets are met with horror at the poison they ingest. But, Namaste, your choice.

Birthday parties, holidays, and Wine Wednesdays have become occasions of gluten-free, alcohol-free, sugar-free conversations of the latest colonic craze.

Namaste, not everyone chooses the healthy lifestyle I do.

Everyone talks about FairTrade and workers’ rights and will only buy organic coffee and local vegetables, but continue to purchase Lululemon clothing and buy sheets made in Bangladesh—Namaste, these are stitched with silver threads!

Any mention of bad days or controversial topics get a response of, “You know what, I really just can’t take this negativity in my life, so I need to change my world. Namaste.

Namaste is the new four-letter word

I began practicing yoga because I wanted to better learn how to live in the world, of the world—how to better serve this world. I couldn’t do that before, when I was all fucked up and righteous and pissed off.

I came to yoga to find the “why” of all of that, and right it—not to find new things to be righteous and pissed off about, further disconnecting from the world around me.

In yoga, I came to find gratitude in the entirety of my experience and was able to be sincere about it. I’m #sorrynotsorry, but I’ve never been grateful that my uncle died at 38 from brain cancer. That fucking sucked, and it nearly destroyed my family, and we’ve never been the same.

When PAYs (Passive Aggressive Yogis) say things like, “Yes, but I am grateful for the lessons that (insert horrific experience here) taught me,” I feel sad. Because it’s invalidating. And no one, including and especially them, deserves to feel that their experience is less valid—sucky things suck, and that’s okay. Not okay. You know what I mean.

Through my gratitude practice, through my yoga, I am able to say how grateful I was for the experience of having such a badass uncle, that I miss almost 11 years later. Not many people get that. That’s something to be grateful for—his life, not his terrible death.

Yoga is union, and for me, the practice is finding union with it all—even the shitty things.

Namaste is recognizing the divine light within you as the same divine light within me—whether you eat sugar or watch Hoarders or think that yoga is dumb.

We’re all the same.

And that means never having to say “Namaste.



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Author: Kristin Monk

Apprentice Editor: Kim Haas / Editor: Emma Ruffin

Photo: Mateus Lunardi Dutra/Flickr


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