Things That Put Me Off The Yoga Community + Why I Still Practice It
I have a love-hate relationship with the Yoga lifestyle. It didn't start this way. Like all love stories, I saw Yoga through rose-tinted glasses. Except that the as I got to know more about the Yoga lifestyle, I realised it wasn't for me.
The first incident I recall that put me off happened about six months after I opened my Yoga studio. I had a pesky landlady who would often interfere with my work. She would come knocking on the door when I had my students upside down in an inversion. She would insist on sitting right outside the studio and catching up with her friends, with no regard for how the noise bothered my work. She was entitled and had absolutely zero respect for boundaries and professionalism. Rightfully so, I was livid. I tried to reason with her several times, asked her politely to respect my space. But, when my non-violent ways failed, I yelled at her, and threatened to call the cops on her. When I narrated this incident to a senior Yoga teacher I hosted for a workshop, she seemed rather disappointed. According to her, I had broken the seminal rule of being a Yogi by being aggressive with her. I didn't agree then, and years later, I don't agree now. In my humble opinion, I protected my sacred space, and didn't deny my feelings of anger.
I see this denial of emotion in the Yoga community quite often. In the name of equanimity, I see many heartbroken, angry, lost, and confused people escape their painful emotions instead of confronting them head on. Modern Yoga sanctions this, perhaps inadvertently. It encourages us to hide behind salt lamps and essential oils.
While I see the logic in not getting carried away by either the good or the bad, and the importance of not attaching ourselves too much to anything, for me, personally, it's quite numbing. I have a lot of feelings, and while I don't attach myself to those feelings or let myself be defined by them, I do quite enjoy feeling them.
The other Yoga trope that put me off the community was this idea of living a 100% clean life. I'm more of an 80-20 person in this regard. I mostly eat and live clean, but I have my vices, and days when I want to indulge. I don't believe in punishing myself for wanting to have a drink or two on a weeknight, or not being able to give up meat (after all, I grew up eating eggs and chicken every other day). I don't think it will kill me to eat a piece of dessert once a week. As long as I eat healthy MOST of the time.
The same applies to material comfort. I don't have to give up my cushy life, or the desire for one, to be a Yogi. I was born into the city life for a reason, and in my mind, Moksha will be attained if I can learn to be authentic and at peace IN THE LIFE I WAS BORN IN, and not in some cave up in the Himalayas. But hey, to each their own!
Don't even get me started on the pseudo-science that is prevalent in modern Yoga - all the detox juices, and the calming teas. In fact, this holds true for the wellness community at large. There is a complicated lattice of inadequate research, Instagram trends, and consumerism. But because of Yoga's traditional holistic lifestyle becoming appropriated and commercialised, I see these traps laid out more often in the Yoga community than say, among runners or weight-lifters (of course, they have their steroids, but there's enough research for someone who wants to make a well-informed decision). If I am doing my asana practice on the regular, and mostly eating light and clean, I don't need to have charcoal juice or a spoonful of moon dust (what even is that)?
Also Read: 7 Practical Things I Do To Attain That Aspirational "Inner Peace" (And Yoga Is NOT One Of Them)
That said, I have been lucky enough to meet a few Yoga teachers - of all ages, from different parts of the world - who don't abide by such superficial and ephemeral manifestations of being a Yogi. They enjoy their occasional drink or pakodas. They like to shop and live comfortable, or even luxurious, lives, and they don't drink charcoal just because everybody is doing it!
They also practice their asanas and meditation every single day, don't get into needless drama, don't judge others for the choices they make, and don't punish themselves for not living up to an Internet ideal. Oh, and guess what? They get irritated, angry and impatient. They are human, after all!
Above all of the noise that is there in the Yoga community, there is one common thread that connects all these archetypes - whether that's the city-dwelling yogi, or the cow urine guzzling yogi. And that is, the way your body feels after a Yoga session. And if you do it long enough, you do begin to change - you become a better person, who doesn't get bothered much by the ups and downs of life, and who understands that everybody is on their own journey.
Which brings me to why I continue to practice Yoga, even though I don't quite live the "Yoga lifestyle" - It makes me feel good. And that's all that matters!
Image Source: Pexels