Sunday, October 4, 2009
Yoga has gone a bit "nice-nice" in my opinion. And first of all, let me say that I think it's fine that it has gone that way and I'm sure it's the pendulum swinging back from the other way, which would have been a bit harsh. But right now, yoga is nice, it fits neatly into our schedules, yoga studios can schedule lots of classes in a certain way because we all know what time it starts and what time it finishes. It wasn't always that way.
A couple of weeks back, I attended a classical Indian music concert. Knowing that I had to pick up my daughter afterwards and trying to make plans I asked the hostess what time the concert would be finished. She smiled at me and reminded me that the first half would probably be a bit longer, there'd be a break and they'd tell people 15 minutes but know they'd take 20, and then there'd be a lighter, possibly shorter second half. It was an Indian concert, you see. Short context for classical Hindustani music - basically the musicians work with certain rules for their ragas/songs and try to generate a certain feeling. Once they've got their groove they take the song or probably the song takes them and the audience, wherever it is going and that takes as long as it takes. There's no notes on a page as it's all improvised within certain guidelines. Sometimes concerts are short, sometimes they're long.
Yoga "classes" used to be like that too. They'd start at a certain time and then they'd end when they were done. Right now classes start at a certain time and end at a certain time - I totally make sure of that in my classes. What that provides is an ability to plan for things afterwards, to pack as much stuff into our free time as we can or want to, there's little pressure, and it's nice. And I like it like that. However, what is missing in that model is the freedom of the teachings, the poses, the group, to create itself and see where it wants to go. It doesn't acknowledge the life of the practice and that the time needed for that may be shorter or longer.
I guess, what's missing is a bit of both. Times when the classes are for practice and you know what time you'll be done and times when things are indeterminate and who knows what's going to happen but the space is dedicated to transformation. Sitting in the space of transformation can be exhausting over a long time and having something count-on-able is really useful. In the Landmark Education for instance, the Landmark Forum and other courses have certain guidelines about when they'll end but no promise to be out at a certain time, but the seminars and other meetings have a strong promise to be done on time so people can fulfill on other commitments they may have without being out of integrity with time. So some of both seems to work.
What I see in town right now is a lot of nice-nice yoga. Little yoga in the hot seat. Am I willing to be someone who creates the space I'm saying is missing? I'll have to think about that...