While I have been humble and smart enough not to profess out loud that I consider myself a “true” yogi, my humility has been grounded in the same ego as my smarts.
For years now, I have been able to safely spout-off my self-righteous indignation of the yoga industry thanks to my personal studies of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita and their various commentaries. However, just as with every other self-help book I’ve read since I was 17, it turns out it’s easier to use the information to analyze and fix everyone else while only superficially applying the antidotes to myself. This has been great for developing my ego and opinions, but very little for my own personal growth and yoga practice.
I have spent a lot of mental hours and friendship hours criticizing not just the yoga industry, but yoga studios, teachers, styles and brands that seemingly contradict what yoga is all about. Yoga is not about working out, funky music, the aesthetics of a yoga butt or therapeutically healing an injury. It’s not about money, popularity or the size or placement of your Om tattoo. It’s not about your pants, what water you drink or how you decorate your home.
Yoga is supposed to be about transcending the ego, duality, and attachment. Yoga is supposed to be a path of transcending suffering, limitations and illusions. So, where is the yoga in the current popular explosion of yoga?
Actually, it’s everywhere.
There is no path that doesn’t lead to yoga. The key to understanding what yoga “is,” begins with understanding that it as a path of transcendence. To transcend something doesn’t mean to reject it or deny it, but rather to move toward it and then through it thus gaining a greater understanding of what that thing is and is not. Once this understanding is attained one can move beyond the illusion of finding something in nothing.
Those who believe in reincarnation might say that we all eventually become enlightened, although it may take millions of lifetimes. Essentially, we’re all on a path heading home to our True essence. That is one way to view the current state of the yoga industry. It doesn’t matter if your goal in yoga is about being seen, having great thighs, or doing fancy tricks, eventually you will begin questioning your approach as you discover your insatiable appetite for contentment and discern that happiness and contentment are not the same thing.
Another perspective, that does not require a belief in second chances or second lives is still that yoga is everywhere, however, not everyone actually carries the intention to be on the yogic path or reach a state of yoga. Some people doing down dog really don’t care if it will help them breathe better, sit stiller or be kinder. They really just enjoy being flexible, appreciating how hot the guy or girl on the next mat is and take pride in the svelte line of their triceps on the back of their arms. Is this wrong? And who’s to say these same people don’t also care about being kinder better people?
Here’s the point…from my yogic pedestal, is it helpful to them or to me to sit in judgment of their choices? When did I become responsible for not only my yoga path, but also theirs? Will “enlightening” them on the so-call real intention of yoga somehow save them? Will this then enlighten me? No! From high atop my yogic pedestal I am not gaining some grander perspective of Truth. I am, however, gaining a grander opinion of myself. I am sitting smack dab in the center of my own ego; my own sense of separation; my own self-righteousness; and I am facing out instead of in. Where is the yoga in that?
Thankfully for me, it is right here with me on my pedestal. My intentions in yoga are to transcend my ego; the blind spot that prevents me from knowing the Truth of who I am. My intentions are to look inside for the ways I block peace, love and kindness from coming in or going out (i.e. the job of the ego), so that I can unblock them and be a positive force in my relationships and in life. Is sitting in judgment of the yoga industry and other people’s expression of yoga accomplishing this?
My true confessions are that I am proud and attached to my yoga butt; I only wear yoga pants that flatter my yoga butt; I sometimes prefer doing asana and meditation with music over listening to the chaos in my mind; I have OM symbols, yoga quotes and Buddha statues all over my home; I am a professional yoga teacher and have profited from the yoga industry and its growth for over 10 years; and my personal yoga practice is often inconsistent at best, leaving me plenty of time to criticize other’s practices.
So, it seems I have been practicing the yoga-of-hypocrisy. Acknowledging this may be the first step in the work of transcending another small slice of my ego and its opinions. I’m not sure where it is leading me. But, hopefully out of other people’s business and into the only place “true” yoga can ever be known: within myself.
Quit Staring at My Yoga Butt: When Students Get Starry-eyed & Teachers Get Sexified. ~ Kellie Adkins
Author: Kori Strobl
Editor: Renee jahnke
Photo: Author’s Own