*** I am a yoga teacher. I talk about yoga a lot. However, I realize that most of my readers at the moment are not yogis or have even seen the inside of a yoga studio or even the outside of one, so from now on, yoga talk will be kept exclusively to Tuesdays.
I sometimes get the feeling that yoga is seen, by people who don’t do yoga, as some sort of weird hippy cult phenomenon.This is probably fair, because in a lot of ways, it is.
When I was a rower in high school, a lot of my fellow crew members liked to say that crew wasn’t so much a sport as a way of life. It sucks you into the 5 am mornings, the brutal workouts, and the humiliating outfits. Yoga is a lot like that. You come for the flexibility, the workout, and the good looking people, and you stay for the alteration of the mind, body and soul.
I get asked a lot if I believe in all of the yogic spiritual hoopla, and in all honestly, I’m not really sure. I’m about as willing to sit through a conversation on chakras and spiritual healing and oneness and transcendent energy karma balancing fa la la la as the next average Joe. Do I think that yoga can calm you down, empower you, and help you make a positive change in your life? As sure as I’m breathing. Do I really believe that the body stores its emotional energy in the hip flexors? Not so much.
I think a lot of potential yogis get scared off of yoga because of all of this mysticism. Walk into a room full of hippie weirdos and take a class taught in a dead language so I can open my chakras and “be here now”? No thanks. However, if you really get down to the bare bones of it, yoga is just about as mystical as your average sports fanatic.
Take hockey, for instance. If you’d never seen a hockey game and you went to one and sat among all the fans holding newspapers and octopi and packs of Big Red gum, and noticed that all of the men in the audience were unshaven and that the goalie was hitting the posts and possibly talking to himself, you might not even make it to the point in the game when people start throwing things onto the ice. Especially if the fans get really rowdy during a cheer.
Can you be a hockey fan without wanting to throw things and jump and scream and grow a beard and wear a (terrible idea) Canadiens shirt to a Bruins rally? Of course. You can also absolutely be a swearing, wine drinking, non-meditating, meat-eating yogi. It’s encouraged, even, because then I won’t be the only one.
Be open minded about yoga, and it will embrace you into its folds like a sweaty drunk after an impressive goal. Who knows, maybe you’ll even start to understand and agree with some of the lore and belief that comes along with it.