When in doubt, go back to your practice.
I would like to share with you what happened over the last three months. And I do get the irony of resuming a blog after over a year – maybe two? – of not writing at all with a post about how I almost quit teaching yoga. Yup, I went there.
The first two-three months of the year are typically the worst for me: energetically, mentally, emotionally – a case of SAD for me. Add to this a deep frustration with the yoga scene in general (seriously I could write a whole rant about it), a new and scary global order, the smashing of illusions and beliefs I had built my little yoga biz on, the reactivation of the activist in me (I remembered I marched at 17 against the far-right in my hometown, eh) => I almost quit teaching.
Quitting because the watering down and über commercialization of yoga has finally reached Brussels (ok I know, we already teach a watered down version as Westerners, but still).
Quitting because the “love and light” discourse in the so-called ‘yoga community’ has been an incredibly privileged stance to take, and an unbearable stance in the face of fear, hatred, oppression, racism, sexism, misogyny, and people fearing for their lives just because they are who they are – I thought yoga teachers knew better. I was wrong.
Quitting because it is still super hard to make a living being a yoga teacher and teaching classes that don’t promise detox but a dive into yourself, even the strongest ones I can do.
Quitting because teaching yoga doesn’t change the world, because “when there’s a will there’s a way” is a dangerous thing to teach people when circumstances are not in your favour (and again, privileged opinion, I can see that now).
Quitting because yoga might be a tool of individual transformation but it won’t do shit if we don’t go after the structures that serve systemic oppression.
Then I had a series of conversations – my students are the best!
They said “but if you quit, who will be there for us? The ones who don’t want to go through a hot detox flow thingy? The ones that are interested in the conversations? Who will be left, if you and the ones like you don’t occupy the terrain?”
So, I keep going. I will teach yoga, because it’s a marvelous tool to find out who you truly are and bring to light who you truly are. It’s not CHANGING who you are, it’s CONFIRMING IT. I marched what I was 17, I am still that 17-year-old, except with a little more experience.
I will teach yoga, and I will march, educate, fight. The next workshop in my schedule is not a yoga one, it’s an activist one to deconstruct white privilege, sharing the resources I have used and read with you – more on that later.
There are many more things I could tell you, but to give a simple piece of advice: when in doubt, go to your practice. No matter what your spiritual practice is, it doesn’t even matter whether you practice yoga or not. The first thing that usually goes out the window in times of overwhelm is that personal practice. Keep it going, even on days when this is the last thing you want to do.
If you practice yoga, remember it’s not only about asana, there are many more ways to practice.
What works for me these days is short bursts 5 to 6 days a week, 30 minute increments, with asana, and depending on my mood meditation, pranayama, chanting with my harmonium. When in doubt, remember the teachings and the practice will always be here, and the noise around it, the Instagram, the acroyoga, the goat yoga, the SUP yoga, the tornado marketing of retreats / workshops with some word twist (ha!) to make you believe they’re anything more than smart packaging, all of this is just this: noise.
And maybe your practice will ground you and keep you sane enough so you can see what your path is. For me, it’s taking action, not just standing there by the side and wait for someone else to do the work.
Practice, and all is coming.
I don’t think Pattabi Jois meant only asana here.