How has your yoga teaching, practice or both changed in the last five years?
Some of us were taught to spiritualize pain in the postures. That our yoga is about what we can do or what it looks like. That alignment or gurus are unquestionable. The authoritarian system may have made us feel bad, shamed, or guilty if we said no, asked questions or challenged the teacher, guru or legend.
Just like trauma gets passed on through familial generations without questioning, awareness and revamping, as yoga teachers we have a role and a voice that either passes on what we have been taught-and-not-questioned…
Or we find the courage to question, learn, and awkwardly feel out a new and better way forward, allowing ourselves to grieve for what we lose in the process and celebrate the privilege to be part of a healthier system that helps humans integrate their mind, body and spirit.
When I began to question everything yoga it felt unbelievable, like I had been lied to, and the equivalent of someone telling me there was no god (back when I never questioned god.) I wished I hadn’t stumbled on new information that made me question what I had taken as truth while simultaneously knowing I couldn’t go back.
Having been raised in a cultish religious authoritarian system where questioning was not allowed, my initial instincts in yoga were to do what I was told.
I remember in one yoga class we were doing scorpion handstands with the assistance of other students. The teacher walked by when I was in the shape. “She’s so close” she said to the students helping me. Meaning my feet were getting closer to my head. I felt like I was about to break in half as they tried to push me deeper.
When I came out of it I asked naively, “We can’t actually break bones or get hurt doing this stuff, can we?”
“Oh yeah,” she responded.
Several years after my husband died I found the courage to question everything I had been ever taught, sold or force-fed.
This breakthrough served me down the line in yoga. I was timid, but not afraid to question what was called sacred or untouchable.
I knew what was on the other side of losing everything.
A new way forward.