I thought it might be time for something completely different for the yoga world.
Not that there’s anything wrong with glossy pictures of beautiful people finding enlightenment on the shores of an empty beach, mostly because, I want to be one of those people. Instead of om’ing away in Bali, I had to find enlightenment at my children’s soccer fields. Then I made dinner.
Although I am a yogi, I am firmly rooted in reality. In my case that means most nights in the kitchen.
This is what has bothered me lately about yoga: many don’t seem to have the same grip on the actual, physical, genuine, material world that involves putting a roof over our heads. Or, if they do know it exists, they pretend it does not. Or, they know it exists but they still want to sell us a dream in Hawaii.
It wasn’t always this way. Ram Dass said the secret to enlightenment was to “feed everybody.” He also taught at Harvard, so he should know.
Yoga, to me, is not escapism. It’s a way to go deeper inside to gain more clarity and focus. I am able to move, breathe, channel my mind and shut out the noise to delve more deeply into the inner life. Then, and here’s the kicker, I can be more content in the real world.
I am not working “out.” I am working “in.” However, many paths will take you home.
Years ago I applied to make a video for a large yoga company. I was politely told no. I found out later I was rejected because as a soccer mom I do not look like “real yoga,” and I do not teach “real yoga,” because my suburban yoga studio was part of a chain that catered to other housewives. I guess we need to be on a beach in order to sell yoga.
Here is the point: there is no such thing as “real yoga.” In my opinion, a tattooed yogi is not better than a soccer mom yogi. An organically-clad yogi is not more spiritual than a yogi wearing expensive and possibly see-through pants. We are all following the path to self-awareness.
I am over the ‘Yoga Olympics,’ where yogis prove that their way is the right way. Why is gentle yoga better than power yoga? Why Yin and not Yang? Why do we have to conform to some view of what is right? The reality is, “real yoga” looks like many things, even making dinner for one’s children. Feed everybody, right?
Can we accept each person, clothed, naked, tattooed, large, small, round, thin, bearded, shaved, dark, light, vegan or flexitarian? Or are we going to dissolve into some kind of spiritual variation of a church, where every other kind of practice is not going to get you to the gates of enlightenment?
Yoga is not a maze on the back of the children’s’ menu, where only one route leads to the center. Yoga is a labyrinth where every path leads you to the prize within. The only thing you can do to fail, is quit. Go inside yogis, reality is waiting for you and it doesn’t require airfare to arrive.
By Michelle Marchildon
Michelle Berman Marchildon is a yogi, mother and writer trying to maintain a sense of humor in a hectic world. She’s a longtime, professional, award-winning journalist, author of The Yogi Muse Blog and the memoir, Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga. Her book for yoga teachers, Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga, has become one of the fastest growing and widely accepted texts for yoga teachers throughout the world.
She’s a Featured Columnist for Elephant Journal and Origin Magazine, a Contributing Editor for Mantra Yoga and Health Magazine, and a contributor under contract to Sports Illustrated. She has also written for Yoga Journal, Teachasana, My Yoga Online and 90 Monkeys. Her wit and dry humor has earned her the title, ‘The Erma Bombeck of the Mat.’ She teaches yoga and raises her family in Denver, Colorado. Her classes are available on www.yogadownload.com and www.yogasteya.com.
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