1. Be grateful for people who can help you get your favorite toys out of a rough spot.
2. Be grateful for good hiding spots.
3. Be grateful for people who cook for you.
4. And play with you.
5. And even let you use them as a pillow.
6. Be grateful for people who accompany you to parties you didn’t really want to go to.
7. Be grateful for your beautiful face.
8. And those who comfort you when you’re feeling sad.
10. And at the end of the day, be grateful for a soft, warm bed.
Oh god, we haven’t done Yoga Tuesday in many, many days, internet. Or possibly years.
Side Note – I enjoy how dramatically my blog view went up in the TWO DAYS since NaNoWriMo ended. I GET IT. YOU HATED IT. MWNAH.
Side Side Note – Six people voted on my poll from yesterday and they all voted for different things. So thanks, but still unhelpful, internet.
Typical. Yet I digress.
My body is a train wreck right now. I did yoga for the first time last night in a very long time (hint- three weeks) and today I woke up fairly positive that I may have been hit by a train in my sleep last night. Or a small airplane. Everything hurts, is what I’m getting at, and it’s a little humiliating, given that last year around this time I was super stellar at yoga related activities.
And yeah, I get that the point of yoga is to be calm and stellar and a good person and non-bothered by trivialities like being good at such or whatever (Side Side Side Note – that would be a great t-shirt. I am non-bothered. It’s something else, though, the yoga thing. I am non-attached? I am non-pareil? I am a nonagon? Not that one, probably).
You know what it is? When you’re good at something, you assume that you’re pretty much always going to be good at that thing, even if you take a while off of doing it. Which is, of course, not true at all. You have to keep learning and practicing and upgrading, or you’re going to end up behind the times.
In terms of feeling behind, I’m Grandma with a new iPhone right now. Okay, maybe more like martial artist learning ballet. But still.
Something to work on, I guess.
When I actually wear a coordinated outfit to the studio:
When someone asks me to explain the difference between two weird disciplines of yoga:
When my friends make up terrible excuses to get out of class:
When someone shows up late to my yoga class and disrupts everybody:
When someone keeps leaving for “a drink of water”:
When I haven’t worked out in a while and I get back on my mat it’s like:
But also like:
When people thank me after class it’s like:
Because teaching yoga, most of the time, is like:
It turns out that I an not an introvert.
Which, frankly, is startling, because I always thought I was.
However, since the satellite version of my office is (long story short) dark, deserted, and I’m the only one in it, I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that I am, most definitely, not an introvert. I like people. I like talking. I like light and activity and friends. Basically everything the satellite office is not, which is why having to work a shift there is like being sent to the 7th circle of Hell.
Theoretically, people (tourists) are supposed to come in to visit me and ask me questions about how awesome Place-I-Live is, but I was in the office today for eight freakin’ hours and I only had three people the whole day.
Frankly, I think the alone time is driving me a little batty.
For instance, I made a friend out of a lamp.
His name is Roscoe Rodriguez Ramez.
Then I tried to make a house for Roscoe Rodriguez out of pamphlets, but it turns out recycle paper is an unreliable building material.
Anyways, being in that office is awful. It’s dark, and it’s lonely, and it smells weird, and people are always walking through without so much as a hello.
But then I went outside, internet, and there was this amazingly beautiful sunset happening.
And it occurred to me that life is like that, internet. Sometimes you get stuck in a gloomy office for a few hours, or days, or months, and you have no idea that there’s a beautiful sunset happening right outside until you can let yourself out the door.
Just a thought.
I read an article today that really offended me, internet.
The article, by XOJane user s.e. smith, asserts that what Westerners call yoga is an offensive cultural dilution that we’ve branded as “exotic” and turned into a new “it” fitness trend.
“While many people appear uncomfortable when it comes to talking about cultural appropriation, yoga furnishes a textbook example; westerners lift something from another tradition, brand it as “exotic,” proceed to dilute and twist it to satisfy their own desires, and then call it their own. While claiming to honor the centuries of tradition involved, what they practice is so far from the actual yoga practiced by actual Hindus that it’s really just another form of trendy fitness, covered in New Age trappings. For Indians, particularly Hindus, there’s a definite divide when it comes to the “yoga” practiced by westerners and that practiced in their own communities.”
Yes, it’s true – yoga as the west knows it has only been around since 1960 or so, and if the point of the article was to clear up any lingering confusion on that point, it would have been commendable.
Yet the author takes it one step further, bringing up the religious roots of yoga and saying:
“If I wouldn’t dream of taking Communion at a Catholic Church if I was attending as a guest, why would I practice yoga? Aren’t there lots of explicitly fitness-oriented options for me to choose from that don’t require me to appropriate religious practices from former colonies?”
Okay, bucko, let’s take a step back here.
Yes, there are a lot of different, healthy, valid forms of exercise out there that us New Age trend-followers could try. Yes, yoga as we know it borrows heavily from old, sacred texts, religious beliefs, and traditions going back eons of years.
However, to imply that the Western form of yoga is somehow trampling offensively over the Eastern version and is therefore an invalid practice is offensive, ill-informed, and deeply wrong.
I have been practicing yoga for almost a decade now, have been teaching, training, and studying yoga for nearly four, and I will declare from the deepest wells of my being that yoga, practiced as we practice it here in good old America, is a deeply beneficial and life-changing habit. I’ve seen people use yoga to drag themselves out of eating disorders, depression, marital issues, PTSD, and illness. I know people who swear by meditation, by the various tenets of yogic spirituality, and by a healthy dose of daily practice. I know people who came in skeptical of the practice and themselves who are now in the studio more then I am.
Is yoga a cultural appropriation? Yes. Is it offensive? Should it be? Absolutely not.
I believe that the Western appropriation of yoga is a good thing, because that appropriation is beneficial to thousands of devoted practitioners here on this coast.
Are you saying, s.e. smith, that a devoted American yogi can’t wear a mala or purchase a Shiva statuette because their practice doesn’t exactly conform to the original intention of the Upanishads who wrote it? Because they are somehow trampling on a religious tradition? Aren’t you missing out on the millions of Asian Christians and Catholics who have combined their religious faiths so deeply with their religious traditions that they’ve essentially created a new religion (because, by the way, that’s another form of cultural appropriation that some would find deeply offensive). Do their beliefs not count because their religion is a perversion?
Religion is not something that you have to take whole hog. Religion is fluid. Culture is fluid. People are fluid. If someone believes something with every cell in their body, has changed from it for the better, and hasn’t negatively affected anyone else by it, that is a holy thing, whether or not they are the right color, sex, or culture.
Yes, yoga is an appropriation. So is P.F. Changs.
If you want to write about religious practitioners who perverted the tenets of their faith, give Westboro a call.
When I have no sequence planned and I just have to make that shit up as I go:
When I could go to yoga but I’m comfy:
When I really want to yoga it out but I don’t make it in time for class:
When I wear a new pair of leggings to the studio I feel like:
When a single girl brings a boy to class we’re like:
When guys find out yoga’s actually a hard workout they’re like:
After a good class when you have to get up out of savasana:
When a teacher describes a really difficult pose:
When I lose track of where the teacher is and I realize they’re RIGHT BESIDE ME:
So I went to one of my mother’s awesome yoga classes last night, internet, and I was (perhaps abstractly) struck with the similarities between folklore and yoga instruction. Admittedly, I was also sweaty and delirious at this point, having been in the car driving from Canada all day and not having really eaten much, but let me lay it down for you and you can tell me what your thoughts are in the comments, k?
As Pablo Picasso once said, “Good artists copy; great artists steal”.
Yes, I’m starting this blog with a super pretentious art quote. Deal.
Here’s my thought process:
Yoga teachers are influenced by other yoga teachers who were influenced by other yoga teachers who were influenced by other yoga teachers ad nauseum.
I have, many times, taken and taught elements of other classes I took that I really liked. The teachers in our studio joke about this all the time. We absolutely pass sequences around and teach the same themes and focus on the same poses from time to time, intentionally or not. Since our studio also teaches Barre and Pilates, and many of our teachers teach more than one discipline, there’s a certain amount of fitness cross-contamination happening as well. I taught a Barre abs section in yoga last week. No shame.
The oral storytelling traditions of folklore work in much the same way. A tale gets written, and told and passed down, and as it gets passed down and retold, it changes. Bits and pieces are lost and embellished and warped. Sometimes the story gets better, sometimes it loses something vital, but either way, the storyteller is trying to preserve the original intention.
Anyways, those are my thoughts.
What are yours?
I’m about to get really real for a quick second.
Yoga teachers are a gimmick.
And it’s important that they are.
Most of your students know what yoga is. Your job is not to teach them what yoga is.
Your job is to teach them what your brand of yoga is.
Huh? What? But branding and marketing is inherently evil, you might be thinking. My yoga students come to me to rinse their souls and spirits of the evils of the corporate world, not to imbibe in your PR mumbo-jumbo. It’s just not karmic.
First of all, if you actually talk like that, please check yourself before you wreak yourself. And secondly, yes, you are a brand.
If you have a following as a yoga teacher, be it large or small, your students are coming to you because of you. They like something about your presence in the room. Maybe it’s your sequencing, or your voice, or your music, but it’s all yours. Somewhere along the line as a yoga teacher, you made a conscious or unconscious decision to teach your class how you’re teaching it, and somebody likes that you are doing it that way.
This is called a brand. As Wikipedia coins it, a brand is a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers”. It doesn’t matter if that definition makes you squirm, it’s what you’re doing, and the quicker you own that, the quicker you can pinpoint what you’re doing that works.
And ultimately, that awareness makes you a better teacher.
Does having brand conscientious mean you can’t change and grow and advance as a teacher?
It’s just another tool you can have in your back pocket to use when you need a little help formatting your classes.
What’s your brand, yoga teachers? What helps you teach?