This past week there was a bit of yoga drama. Did you catch any of it?
First , the NY Times published an article, “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body,” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=yoga%20injuries&st=cse which prompted many discussions and received countless responses. A student told me that it was actually their most responded to article of all time. Last week, there was a yoga commercial that Equinox produced with a woman practicing in her skivvies which also received a lot of criticism and commentary. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathryn-budig/yoga-briohny-kate-smyth_b_1202653.html
They both were a big reminder that even though we are yoga practitioners, we are still human beings. There is a tendency to want our way to be right, to be infallible, and to defend and protect that which we love and believe in. As human beings, we have giant hearts, and we can also have giant egos. Here is an excellent article written in response to the NY Times article. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/01/how-ego-can-wreck-your-yoga–sarah-ezrin/
So much has been written on how “Yoga” literally means to unite, how there are so many different styles and approaches to yoga that as practitioners we often hear a lot of segregation within our own community, and how here in the West we have taken an Eastern philosophy and practice and made it into an exercise that glorifies the human body, and misses the spiritual point. I don’t have much to add to those topics, but honestly, as human beings, what is the point? What is the point of anything that we do? It becomes more and more obvious as we live our lives, that it is not what we are doing, but the meaning that we infuse our actions with that make our lives meaningful, and there is a lot of room for variation.
Human beings are made of dust and the breath of God, or skin, bones, muscles, and blood, or Nadis, Chakras, Meridians, or Sen lines. The beauty of the practice of yoga, or any mindfulness practice for that matter, is that it requires us to pause and spend time getting to know ourselves and our perspectives. To many, that is seen as narcissistic, and to many others it is therapy. In one of my yoga teacher trainings, a teacher said that, “Yoga is the counterpose to life,” and that has always stuck with me as a pretty good way to approach it.
Once we slow down, we may make some discoveries. We may find we feel jealous because someone else has invested time and energy in themselves when we struggle with doing that for ourselves, or that in putting something/someone else down, we are promoting ourselves and what we do as right or better. These are humbling un-coveries(yes, I just made up a word), but they have the great power of opening the doors to understanding and compassion toward ourselves and others.
Understanding someone else’s perspective, how they see the world, their practice, and infuse meaning into their actions can be hard to do. I once read a quote about how if you could see things from someone else’s perspective and know all they had been through, you would bow at their feet(I read it on a bus placard and can’t find the source). The word, “dharma” means the path in front of us, or the universal law in which the behaviors or lessons we most need to learn in order to find balance and wholeness are placed in front of us. From that perspective, whatever your response to this past week in yoga drama, it has the power to reveal whatever it is you most need to work with in order to be on your Highest path.