Yoga and Anger

Here’s to the anonymous person who trolled me the other day to suggest that my “instagram is full of hate, intolerance and violence against those who may disagree with you…[that he] didn’t realize that yoga could be used fir {sic} focusing and channeling hate. Just some observations” and then suggested I spend a little more time in “self-reflection.” 

First, of all, have you actually seen my Instagram?  It’s a lot of butt crack shots, malas, inspirational quotes and flowers.  Not sure where on it you think I’m advocating open borders (his words) and not spending enough time protesting against muslims (all of whom “want every gay killed” - I may need to speak to some of my muslim friends about his theory because I’d never quite heard this before… lol.)  Please show me the hate.  Please show me where I advocate violence.  I dare you. 

Second, we in this country seem to have the notion that a good yoga teacher is some super bendy woman wearing $400 in Lululemon clothes whose thighs certainly do not rub when she walks and speaks in that breathy “yoga” voice.  

I can assure you, this is NOT yoga.  

Don’t get me wrong, I love the asana (the physical practice).  It helps calm me down, it opens my hips so I can sit and meditate longer, and it builds an ability to stay calm and breathe while holding a strenuous pose or being in a difficult circumstance.  That’s all good.  But it’s really not yoga. 

Here are a few things that I have learned about yoga: 

  1. Question EVERYTHING.  How does this feel?  Why do I feel this why?  Is this true for me?  Is this real?  Is this a reaction?  This is easiest when noticing the body (part of the reason for the physical practice) - we begin to observe ourselves and and how we cope with difficult poses.  But more importantly that observation translates into the ability to gain a greater understanding of ourselves and our reactions.  How do I really feel about being trolled… it’s taken me over 2 weeks to sit with it and really begin to understand these things - how do I feel?  Is this true? - all rather than simply react.  Question, question, question.  I adore my teacher, she is wise beyond what I can often comprehend and so many times I’d love for her to simply give me the answer and yet I adore her all the more for insisting I find it for myself. 
  2. We are all connected.  There can be no doubt that we are all one.  And yes, through intense meditation, I can honestly say that I KNOW this.  I have felt it.  I have witnessed it.  Again and again. There can be no doubt that if I’m inflicting pain on myself or on another (or on this earth) that I’m inflicting pain on all.  We cannot escape this interconnectedness.  If I stand by and watch others inflict pain, I myself am guilty of inflicting that pain.  
  3. That yogis have a higher moral code.  You can read on and on about the Yamas and Niyamas.  You can read the Bhagivad Gita to gain a greater understanding of dharma.  And hopefully all yogis are actively engaged in an academic understanding of ourselves and the world around us.  But, for me, it really comes from a deeper and more personal place.  Precisely because I’ve spent the time trying to understand myself better, precisely because I have trained myself to question everything, and precisely because I cannot deny that interconnectedness of ALL of our actions, it’s vital that we tread through this world with more care.  To simply react, to simply lash out, to simply follow the lemmings as they hate gays, hate Mexicans and other persons of color, hate women, hate folks who aren’t “christian”, hate poor folks, and hate whoever the group du jour is, is no longer a viable option.  It’s a cop out. 

In short, it is not in spite of being a yogi and a yoga teacher that I speak up about the injustices around me.  It is BECAUSE am a yogi.

When I see families being ripped apart at our borders for absolutely no reason, I’m going to speak up.  When I see our election system being undermined and interfered with my a foreign enemy power, I’m going to speak up. When I see Klan members gathering in Charlottesville and taken off of “hate group” status, I’m going to speak up.  When I see public parks being sold off, drilled in or torn up for needless pipelines, I’m going to speak up. When I see the government ripping healthcare from countless people who desperately need it to live, I’m going to speak up.  When I see more and more tax cuts to the rich and corporations, those who least need or deserve it, I’m going to speak up. When I see Supreme Court nominees dedicated to overturning Roe v. Wade and marriage equality, I’m going to speak up. Hell yes I am. 

And no, I’m not going to do it in a breathy yoga voice. I’m going to do it in the voice these atrocities warrant.