Are you a part of the yoga problem or solution?

What comes to your mind when you think the word “yoga?”IMG_6245

A tight pair of yoga pants on an attractive lady? A heart-pumping high-volumed sweaty fast-moving room?

Sitting in an incense-filled temple chanting? How many classes are left on your punchcard at your favorite studio?

Yoga’s popularity has been exploited and groomed into a subculture unto itself that ranges from exclusive to cult-like to fashion show.

This recent post on Elephant Journal, “Why I left yoga,” got me thinking this morning: Is Just B Yoga a part of the problem or the solution?

We have popular power classes like Friday night’s Power Intensive. We have a chakra flow class that includes pranayama and mantra. I use sanskrit when I teach classes (albeit sparingly). I own a $70 Manduka yoga mat (I call it my mat for life). Am I dressing myself up in the words and history to give an appearance of authenticity? Am I walking my walk? Or is it all talk a crafty manipulation?

Gonna chew on that for a while.

The writer is deeply genuine and candid about the state of yoga today. Yes, it’s privileged, expensive, judgmental and twisted into an exclusive club mentality.

I have been of a mindset that the means justifies the end – maybe in this lifetime popular club yoga is the way some people can access yoga and we should celebrate that they found the practice at all. If they are meant to explore it in a deeper quieter fashion their journey will unfold.

But this writer is correct, it often leads to a frantic, consumerist activity that is absorbed in the physical sculpting, the adrenalin high, rather than the inner peace and quiet mind the practice is meant to develop. Is yoga accessible to those who need it?

“I can hardly  envision a stressed out, single mother, trying to raise her kids on social assistance being able to afford that when she probably needs the benefits of yoga more than the pampered trophy wife who just returned form her five-star shamanistic initiation retreat in Bolivia.”

Are any of us delivering “real” yoga? What does that look like in the U.S., in Michigan, on the streets of Lansing?

Lansing is a small town with a lot of “yogis.” There are at least five popular yoga studios and countless smaller, obscure ones.back1

There’s hundreds of yoga teachers being certified each year.

There’s TONS of yoga gossip and drama and competition.

Our yoga petri dish is spilling over.

Are we a part of the problem or the solution?

Like the writer says, there’s a lot of serious issues on the planet to consider.

“I have heard stories of certain Jivamukti yoga instructors threatening to cut off friendships with other yoga instructors from other traditions because they were not completely vegan. Really folks? That’s all you can think about?”

We’ve got a lot right here in Lansing – improving education for our kids, improving food security,  creating safe neighborhoods, greening our town, supporting local economy.

So, the next time you practice, ask yourself if you’re a part of a yoga problem in our community, or are you making yoga a part of the solution? How did you extend your yoga beyond your mat that day?

“I still love the feeling I get after doing a session but I just can’t stand to be around the high-school popularity contest atmosphere which has permeated many of the studios these days—and some of the more vapid personalities who are claiming to be instructors and taking advantage of their privileges. I know they are not all like that. There are some genuine, well-meaning people in the yoga community and some of them are doing some truly outstanding work. But for me personally, I question the profit-driven, hedonistic aspects which seems to have taken over the subculture.”

I hope your answer doesn’t make you leave yoga, as this blogger decided to, but to start to be the change and the practice that you want to see.

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