I had somebody in a non-optional yoga class not participate in class the other day because yoga was "against her religion." Wha? How can stretching and being in your body be against your religion or against anything for that matter? You may not feel like it, but how could it be actually against something? I'm still scratching my head.
I wonder if her not participating was more that she didn't want to do it rather than it was technically against her religion and she was perhaps using that as an excuse. Like not having the right clothes or having your sore this or that or whatever we say to not do yoga. (Personally, I'm "too busy," most of the time.)
Nevermind. So let's say it is actually "against her religion" to not do yoga, like not stretch and be in her body. It gets me to thinking. From this side of it, it seems ridiculous that it could be against anybody's anything to not be able to strike a pose and hold it or not. Taken out of context, doing yoga can mean a lot of things to people including worshipping many Gods (which it totally does not), to some sorts of blasphemy by saying we're god instead of someone in particular is God, that we're not capable of being, and it could be misconstrued in many different ways.
But everybody thinks their "practice" or "path" is accessible and if only other people could see it for what it is, they'd get it too. There are things that Jehovah's Witnesses do that I can really relate to (my best friend in grade school was JW and I'd go over for lunch on Wednesdays for "bible study" and that was fun), and there are things that Muslims do, especially in the Sufi traditions, that really resonate with me, and sometimes taken in another light, those things can seem weird or "different."
The truth is - people are people. We're people. We've always been people. We'll probably always be people. And how we are is fairly predictable. (I realize I'm getting old when I say this!) Especially if our neighbours are on a path as opposed to just doing their own thing, what our neighbours are doing that we think is weird, is something we could totally relate to if we took the time to check it out.
When people think yoga is weird, I figure they just didn't have yoga in a context yet that would make it seem normal to them. Given the chance to have yoga in a "normal" context, people will embrace it and at least let go for a bit of their judgements of it. I'm in the same conversation with my Landmark Education stuff. If people have the right context for it, it makes total sense. Without that, and taken in the wrong light, it can seem weird or strange. Not to me, but I see how people can see it that way.
If you find someone in your life who has beliefs that you think are weird, consider for a bit that if you were to look closer, those beliefs may have something in common with beliefs you have as well. We're all wanting the same things, ultimately, in life. It's not tolerance we're after, but rather a real sense that we're brothers and sisters on the very same path.
John and I often joke that if aliens landed we'd all get together as humans and let go of our religious differences. We'd band together so fast and drop all sorts of issues we currently have. Like I often say, little problems go away in the presence of a much bigger problem.