Friday, March 19, 2010

Yoga Accessories

I'm so torn about all of this stuff and so here I blog. When I first started doing yoga, we didn't have yoga mats, we had "space." We didn't have special ties, we had "knotted socks." And that sort of suits me. Like if I'm riding my bike around, I don't need fancy clothes, I just get on my bike with whatever I'm already wearing.

So now yoga's all accessorized and I guess that's fun and neat and I have some, but really it all ends up as more clutter at my house. I heard the story from Sam Dworkis of how Iyengar started with the yoga blocks - he needed a prop for someone and basically said something like, "pass me the Bombay phone book," and then all the americans in the room got excited and started measuring and voila, the yoga block was born. lululemon has provided us all with great looking, comfortable special yoga clothes. And each class has its own special twist, but the biggest yoga accessory of all I would say is this hot thing. Bikram must be laughing his head off at how much his yoga gimmick has transformed and created a whole new industry. At his studio in the past, at any rate, there were no special air filtration systems or heaters, he just plugged in space heaters, packed the room and that was the heat. Somewhere in this blog there may be the story of me trying to heat the auditorium at Kripalu for his visit back in '92.

Anyways, it's seeming like it's all getting gimmicky and fun and that's great but we're avoiding the community, the connection, and the simplicity that is inherent in yoga, and instead we're separating, and isolating ourselves and making our practice more complicated by requiring more yoga accessories. Sure, people go to yoga classes and are with people, but there's not much opportunity to really connect. Some classes offer tea afterwards, like the Kundalini classes often do, but most are basically stretching classes, mine included. Yoga used to be something you did at home; now we all go out to do yoga. It's a big deal, it requires a lot of time, special outfits, and I've got to say, in my opinion, that is so not yoga.

Needless to say, after this month, I will not be teaching hot yoga. I'd totally do a work out in a hot room, but I wouldn't call it yoga. I don't think yoga would have us waste resources to practice. Awesome, hot stretching might. But yoga leans towards consciousness, not unconsciousness. It leans to simplicity, not to complication.

And I'm working right now on what to call a Tuesday night class that I'd like to offer that is way more Old School Yoga. One that does some stretching and does a meditation. A class that encourages conversation and has room for that and some teaching on the other aspects of yoga, not just the postures. Stay tuned. An actual yoga/meditation class just might be coming your way if I have mine ;)


Jenni Young said...

Jamine, funny - I posted a blog about doing yoga in my jeans not too long ago with a similar flavor. If you had a class that was not just postures I would come! I used to go to a class like that where I used to teach and it was quite popular. A little posture, a little meditation and a little chatter - it's all good yoga!

sammi said...

I appreciate your point of view, Jamine!
I think you idea of calling the class "Old School Yoga" is spot on. Give it a try.

Sabrina said...

I really appreciate your thoughts on this, Jamine. I, too, would come to a yoga class if it was a mix of poses, meditation and community.

I love going to yoga classes, and yours have always been a favourite of mine because I find you have sort of a no-muss, no-fuss kind of approach. Plus you always start the class with a little bit of "this week, this is what happened to me and it got me to thinking...", which I always loved because it reminds us how we can meditate on how we can bring a yoga lens to our everyday life.

While I love going to yoga classes, I haven't been lately, in part because I guess I've always felt there was a little something missing. I now realize it's the community part that's missing from most classes. And the meditation, which I find to be the most important part.

All this to say, thanks for writing about this and I wholly encourage you to create an "old school yoga" class as you've described!

Asteroidea Press said...

I'll clear my Tuesday nights if you do that.

I've started practicing at home, mostly because while the adjustments are really nice I can do a lot of the physical stuff now on my own and it's a lot damn cheaper and I can have the heat down, etc. etc.

But I miss the community aspect of going to classes, which I've found here and there. I'd love to have that kind of space again, to stop at a certain posture for a while to talk about what's going on.

I'll keep an eye out here!

Jamine said...

I just found out I'll get my wish! So starting April 6 we'll have a yoga/meditation class at my old Beginning Yoga time slot. All levels, but really it's going to be a bit advanced. The asanas will be basic but the holding of seated meditation will involve some challenge, I imagine. I'm excited!

Asteroidea Press said...

Can't clear the 6th, but after that I'm in!