Sunday, October 19, 2008

ballad of a radical yogi

Taught an odd class today. I've been off for the past few days, physically and otherwise. The time of the month certainly doesn't help, to put things euphemistically and cryptically. And it's Sunday. I am officially taking all the rest of my Sundays off. No work, just the paper and some coffee. Yup. That is my executive decision.

I cannot relate to many other yoga practitioners. At least not many of the folks in my town. I often wonder if I'm imposing my own little wall of protection. I just can't relate to people who aren't informed about the issues of the day, who live with little regard to the other inhabitants of their planet, and who don't at least try to act in accordance with their ethics. I could let shit like this slide a bit in the bike industry, because one couldn't assume that because someone likes to ride bikes that same someone is all for alternative transportation, fair wages for all and treading lightly on the planet. (All that seems safe to assume, but it ain't.)

In the yoga world, though... well, I just can't understand folks who practice yoga and don't think past the ends of their own noses.

I had an interesting experience the other night as I attempted to socialize with some yogis. I found myself surprised by their by-the-book behaviors (of course we're gonna listen to reggae, use phrases like "negative vibes" and refuse to acknowledge that some people might simply be reprehensible) and their lack of interest in the affairs of the day. This seems to be unique to my newly adopted hometown. Everywhere else I've lived I've managed to surround myself with thoughtful, passionnate, involved individuals. Their spiritual practice was part and parcel of their commitment to a just, sane world. Not so much here.

I excused myself from the social event early, citing a lonely dog at home as my reason. I walked home feeling dejected about my decision to operate a business in a place where I still feel so alienated.

Today's teaching didn't help any, either. I found myself confronted by a student about a sign I put up in front of the studio, endorsing a mayoral candidate. Said candidate happens to practice at the studio, but I'd known of him as a candidate long before I posted the sign. I wanted to know more about all the candidates before I stated a public opinion. Yes, I am biased towards my student... but of the many individuals running for this particular office, he is one of two who I'd be happy to see victorious in November. I don't think he is perfect. I also don't think Barack Obama is perfect or my first choice, but I'm dancin' with the one what brung me.

Anyway. This confrontation left a bitter taste in my mouth as I started the class. It made little sense to me to have such a conversation right before one begins a yoga practice. But it does make sense if people don't practice to clear their mind or stay present or contribute to an overall movement towards peace and justice. If you practice because it keeps you in shape or whatever, who cares about the consequences of your actions, right?

I don't want to change who I am in order to make my business successful. I have this hope that if I infuse my actions with my sense of ethics, like-minded folks might gravitate towards the studio. And perhaps it won't seem so odd for us to make public statements about current affairs.

The words look and feel so empty on the screen, though. I don't know if I have the energy to fight this fight on my own.

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