Friday, March 19, 2010
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 ;)