There has been a LOT of talk about what "is" and "isn't/shouldn't" be yoga around the bloggy community lately. Overall I'm pretty tired of reading how other individuals view their yoga as best. Perhaps by remaining a student I'll keep the openness to learning and acceptance that seems to slip through the grasp of most yoga teachers immersed in what they believe is "right". At least, I hope to keep that integrity. (windmill in the fog at home)
Regardless, I do have a few issues on what I personally believe pushes those boundaries of acceptance (yoga as competition being one) and I thought I'd share a WTF yoga gossip with you.
In my village and the surrounding villages there are three or four yoga teachers. Which is strange as the population is so small and populated by fishermen and their wives for the most part. In any case, it has been growing in popularity where students (for the longest time wives who had money to spend on lulu clothing and classes) practiced in Legion Halls, old Ballet studios, school gyms and even lofts of barns (which I heard was beautiful).
I attended a few classes at the Legion while visiting family with a specific local instructor. It was a bit scary, the environment was pretty hostile and the women formed a cohesive, gossip-y judging group (there's a reason I decided to move away...). The instruction itself consisted of the teacher practicing at the front with most students trying to emulate her asanas without modifications or adjustments. If she suggested a more advanced version, EVERYONE tried it, whether or not they had the basics. (view from the water of my village!)
Not really my thing. A few more classes like that, leaving me feeling stressed and hostile and home practice it was for future family visits. An injury while being caught up in the competitive nature isn't really my thing, I'm there to learn and not compete.
The other day my mom, Tante C., cousin C. and cousin R's gf were in Halifax to shop. I was sick that week, but met up for supper. My cousin's gf is the epitome of why I don't practice yoga at home; money and brand-names are the most important thing and I'm sure she went home and let everyone know what I was wearing and what I said during supper. An example, she commented on my SamSara bag so I told her how it was vegan, a Canadian company and proceeds are donated to Canadian charities. Her response: did it cost more than a Mat&Nat bag? (as in, it's only cool if it did).
She practices with M., the non-adjusting teacher at home. She also informed us that she got my cousin, a fisherman, to practice yoga with her. Wow- that's pretty darn impressive! The instructor had set up a partner's yoga class and it was actually attended by the fisherman spouses!
How did the yoga teacher do it?
One acronym: BYOB. Yep, it was a bring your own beer/liquor yoga session. Apparently the men drank alcohol while the women warmed up on their mats and they watched. Kinda like a creepy junior high dance where the guys stood and watched the girls dance. Then they moved to the front of their partner's yoga mats and the women demonstrated asanas while they watched close up. For example, downward dog....and made some minor adjustments (pulling on the hips etc). According to my cousin's gf, comments were made about the suggestive nature of the postures and jokes were had. One man even said: "This is the closest I've ever been to an orgy with my wife around!"
These people paid for a set of partner yoga classes. Although the students think nothing of it, it surprises me that someone who traveled to India, trained with respected yogis in the city would do warp something so beautiful into an experience filled with sexism and alcohol.
But hey, that's just me... and I AM trying to move towards being more open and tolerant right?
Happy Sunday Yogi/nis and be safe: Don't Drink and Asana!
article and photos copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com