Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Breaking yoga rules: a judgmental approach to yoga

“The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whenever it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right”.
(Hannah Whitall Smith)

I hate “preachers”, typically. No, not “that” kind, that’s why I used quotations. I don’t hate the kind that stand up on a podium, or in an Altar at church on a Sunday. I love those. I think they’re an intrinsic part of our way too troubled worlds.

I hate the ad-hoc kind that you run into at the store, or at your work, or even the gym or the yoga studio, for that matter. The ones that know it all, have seen it all, have tried it all, and now they are going to make YOU buy it all or else you’re scum and a low piece of doo-doo if you ain’t buying it or if you’re not subscribing completely to their own system of values, right now, here, this minute. NOW! THAT kind of “preachers”.

Here’s the story:

I go to my yoga class tonight and here’s this woman who’s louder than thunder, or so her voice sounds, telling everyone who can hear without a hearing aid about how she got out of jury duty today. Surely, with a lie. And I am floored, because I didn’t know you can do that. So, I lose respect for whatever comes out of her mouth from then on (she breaks rule number 1 of yoga, I think: do not lie). I try to collect my thoughts at the end of the day, but no, the jury duty story barges right in!


At the beginning of the class she tells the teacher “we’re all tired girls here and take it easy”. Not sure who “all” she was referring to, since she didn’t poll me, and I, for once, was not tired; I didn’t hear the other woman in the class saying anything along the same lines, but … Rule number 2 (be truthful) is out the window (random number here, I know this is not what Patanjali intended).

But that’s not why I started writing this.

She set me off, truly, at the end of the class in the hallway. This other woman asked her about the yoga 300 hour program she (the loud one) had just finished and how it was, and … she (loud one) proceeds to share, quite un-shyly and quite loudly that she is a personal trainer and a “spin” instructor, too, but “now she does mostly yoga, because how can you not?!!!" In the same loud voice, she screams: “yoga is everything. I cannot believe you don’t just DO it after the first class, since it changes your life soooo deeply. Yoga is everything. It encompasses everything, and I just don’t know how not everyone doesn’t just do it, all the time. I am ALL about Yoga now, and I love it. And …“ – and she goes on and on about how yoga changed her life and how ALL the people in the world should let yoga do that for them.

And I am sitting there, tying my shoe and breaking another law of yoga: you should not judge! So I am thinking to myself: “you did at least 300 hours of intensive yoga, woman, and you got nothing, not a damn thing, not the first thing out of it!”

If yoga is about anything at all, it is about being a personal , very individualized path for each and every single one of us. And how we should all explore it, and see if it is for us first and in what shape it fits us, if at all, in a VERY personal, very unique way for each soul. It’s not a “one size fits all” solution to happiness and/or fitness. You gotta let everyone find it for themselves. Not judge if they don’t find it. Not scream to find what YOU found in it. Just be quiet and wait. And let yoga speak for itself to anyone out there who’s trying to listen. And they’ll find … whatever … whenever they choose to be ready for … whatever … they might find in it, if anything.

Her loud voice was overwhelming. You know, that voice that is a couple of decibels louder than you can ignore?! Just enough to be intruding and invading. Just enough to enter by force into everyone’s lives uninvited.

And I didn’t know how to get out of there faster. Because she was … invading my privacy and completely ignoring my presence and thoughts. And the other people’s too.

And that’s when I decided to smile, with pity (I know, I screwed up: with judgment too…): she didn’t get it after all. So, it was her loss, not mine, I thought. “Poor thing”!

But wouldn’t you want to correct that in some way?! Hhmm… I would. Or at least, I hoped through the rest of our silences and rushed steps out of there … she would learn. Hopefully.

One day.

1 comment:

Kehaar said...

Hey...you've started to use punctuation.

Don't think I didn't notice.