I need to acknowledge here, that I borrowed this title from J. Brown, who was one of my first teachers, and who runs an interesting podcast (especially for teachers of yoga). J borrowed the title from Zack Kurland, who was a guest on the pod.
Last Friday morning I decided to check out a yoga studio in my neighbourhood, that I had never been to before. I ended up at Kaala Yoga, where I ended up in a class with Michael. About two thirds into the class, which was fairly physically challenging, I realized first that I had a sweat moustache, and secondly, that I was yoga-stoned. And I probably had a ridiculous smirk on my face as I lowered myself into yet another chatturanga. I cycled home underneath a cloudy sky, assured that the baby blue was there beyond the steel-wool gray, and feeling ridiculously giddy. Once home I sent a couple of gushing texts to a yoga teacher friend about how being in a really great yoga class is the best thing in the world. Both during and after. And if it's really really good, if the class was structured in such an expertly way to do deep work, the feeling would linger and permeate the whole day, and maybe even the next day.
I guess it was experiencing this that led me to fall in love with yoga back in year 2000.
And I still have these moments. While practicing at home and while going to class. I sense my students having these experiences at times, and that is an almost equally powerful experience. While I may not get high myself, but helping someone feel good, helping someone snap out of their mind, their grief, their stress, if only for a short time, makes me feel like I am doing something worthwhile with my life.
A year or two ago, I started seeing stickers/towels/t-shirts reading: Fuck Yoga. I wasn't offended. I kind of wanted (and still want) to wear one of those t-shirts. While teaching.
I've written about it before, but it's the way that yoga has turned into big business, gone way mainstream. Been co-opted and hi-jacked by neo-liberal forces. It's the majority of the Instagram yogis (thank Kali for mynameisjessamyn), the 'Spiritual Gangster' t-shirts, the malas, the appropriation of Hindu gods and goddesses. It's the herd mentality. It's the sad fact that Yoga Journal only puts skinny pretty (and mostly white) people on its covers. It's the fucking yoga shoes. It's the factory farming that the 200 hours YTT programmes are. 200 hours to be good enough to teach a system as rich, and as large, and with such a long history as yoga? 200 hours with zero prerequisites?!
It's all the guru sex scandals (see Bikram, Anusara, Jivamukti etc). It's the chronic back pain that myself and so many of my teacher colleagues have to deal with every day. It's the €22 for a drop-in class. All the iphones in the goddamn shala. On the fucking yoga mats! Texting through the opening om?!
It's the way all the yogis in instagram-yoga-paradise Bali look like clones (I way preferred the Riot Grrl or Kinderwhore-style).
But still. I love yoga. I love moving my body with my breath. I love how I can instantly make myself feel better. I don't need to go anywhere or pay anyone. I love that I have learned how to ground myself, and how this, and other tools help me in many other areas of my life. They help me when I perform with my band. When I talk to Vodafone customer representation. When I feel super-restless. I know that this practice have changed my life for the better. But that has very little to do with the fact that I have defined ar muscles or can stand on my head.
And I feel unbelievably grateful that I get to do this for a living.
I just hate the way it mostly looks from the outside these days. And I am worried about where it all will end.