Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cutting through Yoga Elitism (RePosted)

I have to admit.  Sometimes I get annoyed by seeing yoga retreats in Bali, or Brazil, or some other exotic place in the world.  Yoga, which is an ancient tradition, was originally passed on from teacher to student right in their home, village or community.  Now with elite yoga you get to travel halfway around the world outside of the daily grind of life to chant together or practice asanas together in the serene setting of a foreign land.  I say that is not yoga.  It feels like escapism.  It's getting away from the ugly harsh realities of how people are living in this country and going some place where all of that is erased and real life melts away.  Yoga is supposed to be brought to the people wherever they are,  in the muck and madness of daily life.

 Yes, I could probably find specific slokas of the gita or of patanjali's yoga sutras to back up what I am saying, but my heart tells me all I need to know and that is:  If we are to use yoga as a practice to help us deal with the daily struggles of life, how does running all over the globe help? How are you improving your life or the lives of potential yoga students right where you are?  Be here now!  Right where you stand, that is yoga!

While discussing this with a co-worker and fellow practitioner she said "You need to get in a space that no matter where you are, the distractions don't distract you."  She is absolutely right, that is one of the aims of yoga.   I wish that more of the magazines focused on this as a core teaching of yoga.  I wish that there was more of a focus on seva and karma in present day yoga.  I am almost at a point where I'm ready to unsubscribe to yoga magazines, because I'm tired of the hard tail ads and the perfect little yogini's with their perfect little lives and perfect little bodies.  Where is the magazine that digs deeper?  Where is the yoga teaching that gets to the core of what we face as individuals when we are off the mat?

I feel incredibly fortunate that I work at a place that has free community yoga every week for the last 3 years.  It began as yoga for those that were unemployed.  Michigan was hard hit by the recession early on, especially those who worked in and around the auto industry. So this idea sprung up to give back to those who were in need of this practice.  Yoga has given so much to me a practitioner and now as a teacher. I feel this overwhelming urge to give back, to help, to transmit something that cannot be spoken through words, but only through sharing of this practice, the breath, body and mind connecting as one.  While I try not to judge, I admit right now it's very hard not to when there are $20 yoga classes and book signing with yogi "masters" and yoga groupies and all of these things that just seem to be the antithesis of what yoga is.

I understand that things get westernized to a certain extent when they reach our shores, but do they have to become totally bastardized?  There is this righteous (or so I think) indignation building up inside of me where I feel like being The Yoga Renegade!  No I'm not skinny, never have been and never will be.  No I'm not white.  No I'm not blonde.  And no I'm not teaching in a suburban yuppie neighborhood.  I want to take yoga to the people who could benefit from it the most.  I want to take yoga to the people who can least afford to pay for it.  I know what yoga has the ability to do when you practice.  This is why I became a teacher. This is why I love yoga, this is why my head is about to explode seeing this beautiful practice being stripped of its roots.

All power to the people

Yoga to all people

Yoga is for everyone

Let's cut through the yoga elitism and take it back to where it belongs: "We the people!"

Please check out the links below.  I am organizing 24 hours of continuous yoga to support the Non-Profit work of Yoga 4 Peace.

You can also support Y4Peace and their free community programs

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