I love practicing on moon days. I’m not supposed to practice at all, so I can do anything I want! Ha ha ha!
My last post and all the comments on it have me thinking about why two of my major passions- – social justice and yoga- – are so distant from each other. They certainly shouldn’t have to be, yet most yoga studios are so disengaged from the communities around them–they simply fit into a classic business model (whether they like it or not) and that’s that.
But what would it look like to have a socially engaged yoga studio? What would that entail? Would it work? What are ways plain old yoga studios can become more engaged with the community?
I’ve seen a few examples of yoga studios becoming somewhat more involved in the community, but not many and not much. What can we learn from them?
My yoga teacher said something that made me really angry the other day, and now my head is all in the mud about going to the studio. Fantastic. Should I even try to explain what he said so this makes sense?
Ok, first some background information. The yoga studio is located in a part of the Central District in Seattle that is traditionally black and traditionally low/mid income. I imagine the studio is there because that’s what was affordable when they were first starting out- – fine. Now the neighborhood also has two newer scenes creeping in- – underprivileged people of color who are homeless and often have drug problems on one hand and privileged mostly white gentrification on the other hand. So there’s a little picture of the neighborhood.
The BS comment came after chanting at the studio one morning and it went like this: “Isn’t it great that we can be here in this neighborhood, with its homeless crack scene, chanting like this? I think the people really dig it. We’re really doing a great thing–we’re raising the vibrational energy of this place. You know, these people have a lot of obstacles, so here we are chanting to Ganesh. It’s so great that we can some higher vibrations into this neighborbood.”
God, no, uh-uh. Let’s be honest. You aren’t doing a damn thing for these people, so don’t pretend you are so you can feel all cozy and self-satisfied. If anything you’re making it harder for them to live here by contributing to the area’s gentrification. You don’t know what low income black people need in Seattle- – and I can assure you that whatever it is, it sure as hell isn’t CHANTING! They can raise their own damn vibrational levels if they feel like it! This whole attitude is so effing imperialistic, I can’t believe it–justifying privileged takeover of underprivileged spaces with bullshit “spiritual” excuses. I can’t believe it and I can’t stand it.
I’m so pissed, I don’t even want to go back. I don’t want to be a part of that. But I want to practice my yoga and I want to have qualified teachers. What can I do? Aaagh! And I’m in the middle of this training, and I’m on work trade so I owe my teachers a ton of work hours–I’m pretty tied to this studio. I want to say something, but I don’t know if it’s appropriate, and if it is, I don’t know how.
Oh, my body aches, but this isn’t the usual Ashtanga-induced soreness here and there. I’m having a whole bodymind shift. I think it’s largely related to having a new job–new routine, new stimulation, new questions, new people, new environment. So naturally, my body and my mind have reacted. I have the classic shoulder tension, but I’m having tons of other pains and sensations as well. I’m having sudden little fireworks–more like sparklers–in my lower back that are gone in an instant; I’m having wrist pain in one wrist and then another; I’m having MAJOR sensations in my hips any time I do ANYTHING with them; my knees are feeling stressed out and sometimes have sharp, tiny pains just under the patella; my digestive system is all wonky; and there’s probably other stuff too that I’m not recalling or not noticing.
In summary, it feels like:
As far as what’s in my head, well, I’m often feeling very scatterbrained and occasionally anxious, which is to be expected, but I’m often feeling very in love with the world and very absorbed in the moment, curious and content. Strange. And the whole mindbody mess began, starting with the hips, about four weeks ago, or in other words, when I started this job. And of course just after I started the job, Teacher Training began, which added to the craziness.
What a strange combination of thoughts, sensations, and experiences. What exactly is going on here? What’s next? Where will I go with this?
Because TT students are taking turns assisting in the Mysore classes, I’m getting lots of extra adjustments. I love it! I want to be adjusted in some postures–Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, Prasarita Padottanasana C, Virabhadrasana II and so on–every day! I think over the long term, that could get a little ridiculous, but I’m enjoying it right now.
The Teacher Training has become much more tolerable now that I’ve gotten into the rhythm of things. Enjoyable even. Aaah. The organization, uh, style (minimalistic) is still a little crazy-making, but the content is good, the students are fun, the teachers know what they’re talking about, and all is generally well. I’m especially enjoying the guest lectures by JL on the Yoga Sutras. She’s super-enthusiastic about yoga philosophy (woo hoo, philosophy!) and moves at a fast clip. I appreciate that. But really, the key to me enjoying this training is having a relaxed mind and plenty of snacks on hand. Pleeenty of snacks, especially nice, sugary fruit juice.
Unfortunately it’s a little hard to have a life while I’m this busy. I guess the problem is that I’m trying to have a life in the first place while attending a TT. But things come up–my housemate wants to throw a party here next weekend, an old friend is in town for just a couple weeks and I want to see her, I naturally want to spend time with my lover, and god, I need a little time to study and do the groceries too. But I know I’ll have loads of time for all of this soon. I think sometimes being well-balanced doesn’t necessarily mean striking a perfect balance every day, but balancing things out over time, and balancing one’s approach to the events that come up in life. I’m busy right now, but I’ll make time for some serious relaxation in a couple weeks. My schedule is hectic, but I will remain relaxed and confident.
I really am grateful for all the wonderful things in my life, including this TT, my job, and all the other things that are keeping me so busy. Of course it’s not easy–nothing meaningful ever really is. I didn’t sign up for the path of ease; I signed up for the path of joy, fulfillment, and challenge. I signed up for reality and everything that goes along with it. So I’m grateful for all the fun, relaxing, and inspiring things, but I’m grateful for all the messy, hectic, ridiculous things too. Thank you, life.
I absolutely could not drag myself out of bed this morning. My body felt. . . well, kind of dead, like when you have a bad flu. Just heavy, heavy all over. So I slept in for another hour and a half, really needing the extra rest, but then I just had awful, stressful dreams the whole time. Not very restful at all. Sigh. And I had to skip yoga entirely to make it to work.
No yoga, shitty dreams, my body aches. . . and my schedule is pretty much full until bedtime tonight. Maybe right before bed, I’ll do some meditation. Or restorative asana. Something. I need time to clean all the garbage out of my head.