I'm trying really hard to respect yoga. Or perhaps I should clarify, I'm trying very hard to respect yoga's practitioners. After seven years of practice, I feel as though yoga has a lot of offer. As the boom of popularity seems to have peaked, I'm feeling a bit of a tipping of the scales.
It's funny, but my views on yoga have changed over the years. At first it was an almost blind adulation. Yoga's cure all for every single ailment; psychological and physical. Yoga instructors had special knowledge and were automatically trusted to be more enlightened... or something.
A few incidents cured that line of thinking fairly quickly. I don't really have the thickest skin you see.
So a tiny thread of caution entered my yoga practice. Learning yoga (or those who teach it) can hurt, a pulled achilles tendon and emotional in class bullying testified and adjusted my course.
Surprise at just how disconnected many practitioners and instructors were with yoga and the real world prompted the beginning of this blog. I was flabbergasted that so many could just rattle of yoga platitudes of the yamas and niyamas while drinking their starbucks coffees out of disposable cups, practicing on petroleum based yoga mats and over heating their studios adding to our world's pollution.
Follow that up with a few years of failed attempts at connecting the Halifax yoga community and you now have quite the cynical yogini. Oh, I'm sure this too will pass, but for the moment I'm entering an almost grieving of the loss of yoga's respectability.
I'd really like Yoga to be taken seriously as a Health System. There are so many fabulous instructors and so many valuable teachings. In order for this to happen, Yoga needs to fit, somewhat, into the basics of a Health Culture that is already quite established in the Western World. At the very least, those who have the power to make this paradigm shift need to accept and respect Yoga.
Unregulated instruction and training pumping out hundreds of barely qualified instructors into classes to prattle off one liner pop psych 'secrets' while barely guiding students isn't going to help. Neither does having a High Profile Yoga Instructor deciding to publicly lead students to roll intention joints and smoke their way into 'bliss'.
Reasons why this 'mudra' was disappointing and not well thought out:
1. Not everyone will make that connection. And let's be clear: pretending to roll and then smoke a joint IS about weed. The metaphor would have never been used if the act of smoking weed didn't result in a high...which was being linked to 'bliss' and directly to a yoga 'mudra'. It's not like they pretended to hammer an intention nail. This metaphor *only* works if you make the connection between getting high and bliss.
It's truly disappointing that as a high profile and well established teacher can't take a step back and realize that when teaching a class not everyone present will have any basis to make that connection. Yoga isn't directly or automatically connected to the marijuana subculture. In fact, what I LIKE about the culture is that, for the most part (at least since high school) I have never felt pressure to partake. It's a faux-pas to peer pressure others. You offer and then you pass. At least, unless you're a commenter reacting strongly to the implication that smoking weed might not be cool for some. And then you get high school-esque comments like telling another commenter (for example, perhaps myself) to take the 'stick out of your ass'.... Nice.
2. Having an activity so directly linked to a substance that, regardless of your opinions, remains illegal to be publicly photographed and witnessed just doesn't help others take yoga seriously. As a high profile teacher, there are responsibilities that are inherent to that role. He has accepted the path to lead hundreds and thousands of students along the road of Yoga, implicitly representing Yoga to other disciplines and potential students.
You can argue that he's not accepted that as an official role, or it wasn't explicitly stated, but the reality is that when a person becomes 'yoga famous' that is part of the deal. Without regulation or official organization, it's the 'famous' who become our culture's Leaders. It's beyond the control of those in the role, and those on the sidelines.
So. I'm disappointed. But then, for something that really should have never been THIS big of a deal, it has taken on quite a bit of mental space as I dealt with the reality of placing my opinions on an internet forum to have my own self attacked and pressured. Of course, this is all about me really, and less about the actual event of rolling an 'intention joint' and 'smoking to my bliss'.
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