Monday, October 27, 2008

living among the crazy honkies

So maybe this blog won't focus so much on the day-to-day minutiae of teaching yoga classes. Some classes inspire an urge to write and share and record, good or bad. And some classes are just there. What doesn't change is the discomfort (for lack of a better word) I often feel as I transition into the yoga community at large, and perhaps the greater community known as my new hometown.

It's fuckin' easy to be a scumbag and work in the bicycle industry. You can wear the same hat all year, go days wearing the same pair of pants, have all sorts of ridiculous tattoos, avoid worrying about how much you drink (booze, coffee or both), swear at your leisure... and very few people will pay you any mind. Sure, some bike shops insist on a more "professional" demeanor, but more often than not they'll ask that of their sales staff and let the mechanics get away with a bit more. Hence my lack of resume in the sales arena.

It is also easier to foam at the mouth about politics in general in the bike world. Not always easy, but certainly easier than doing the same in the yoga world. It is quite possible to find kinship with other cyclists about issues of justice and environmental concerns. For some it's part of the equation: caring about the planet equals riding your bike.

Try to do some of this at a yoga studio, however, and you may be met with blank stares or outright hostility.

My better half made a valid point as we discussed recent events. He suggested that some folks consider their yoga class as an escape from the troubles in their world. So perhaps they'd prefer a space devoid of politicking. Fair enough, I say. What I don't think is fair is the assumption that we all agree about the world, and that we all agree that if everyone would just meditate and get all spiritual we'd be okay.

I may practice yoga and meditate, but I am a ridiculously pragmatic person. If something is broken, I want it fixed. I worry about the repair before I worry about why it's broken or who might have broken it. If the bed needs to be made, I make it. If dishes are dirty, I wash 'em. Get the picture? So if I know people are hungry, I ain't gonna wonder what forces made 'em hungry. I'm gonna feed 'em. If I see someone being mistreated, I'm not gonna try to "dialogue" with their superior. I'm gonna want that person to back the fuck off.

And if people aren't working and things just aren't going as we hope, I ain't gonna chalk it up to Kali Yuga and call it a day.* How the fuck does that help anyone? Yet I work with and teach and, in some cases, totally adore people who feel completely comfortable doing such a thing.

Many people have mentioned that the town where I now live is "a place of healing." It is for this reason that many people do not feel compelled to get involved on a civic level, because they are not here to connect with people and create a vibrant working community. They are here to heal themselves. With bodywork and acupuncture and crystals and mineral baths and some good things and some more quackery. People want to write love poems to "Mother Earth" as opposed to collecting trash from the side of the road. They want to create prayer circles instead of engaging civic leaders and politicians about injustice. To them, it totally makes sense that we're living in a time of vice and the world moves through cyclical patterns which means we just have to sit this vice time out. Without doing anything to alleviate anyone else's suffering. 'Cause y'know, man, that's like working against the gods. Man.

I can be okay with people stepping back for a spell to take care of themselves, especially if they're in ill health. We're no good to anyone else if we can't take care of ourselves and work from a place of good health. I only hope once these folks "heal" they'll feel compelled to bring that healing to others. But I don't see signs of that, at all.

What is it about yoga that attracts these selfish people? That's what they are to me: selfish. They want peace of mind and contentment for themselves, but they refuse to work to bring that to others. I know not every person practicing yoga acts from this selfish place. It's just that this is all I see right now. I find it reprehensible, and I don't know what to do to counteract it.

* Folks, this seriously came up in conversation. I am not making it up.

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