Yes, this is part of my “finish up last year’s PBP” posts. Better late than never. But let’s get into it, shall we?
Some of you may recall that, just under a year ago, I decided that I would do at least ten minutes of yoga or other physical activity (at the time, that meant taking a walk, but this has expanded to things like going for a swim or doing a living-room-dance-party as well) every day.
I have not been doing a lot of yoga lately. Being on the ground floor with the blinds open is definitely discouraging me from my morning cat-cow and downward dog poses, let me tell you. But that’s not actually what I’m writing about today.
I want to talk about “white people yoga” / “new age yoga” and how, for such a damn long time, I was seriously averse to trying yoga for the health/stretch benefits because I was watching my witchy friends turn into new-age, white-light, “yoginis”.
This is what I mean when I say “white people yoga”. It’s not the stuff they do in India, or on Tuesday nights at the local Indian community center, or whatever. It’s this other stuff. Stuff that, when it moves into spirituality territory rather than “gentle exercise” territory, really seems to be heavily linked to a dualistic worldview where “light” is “good” and “dark” is “bad” and… you know where this is going already.
That isn’t me, folks. I appreciate the stretch a lot. No question, and I’m glad I gave it a go. I even miss the classes, which get me to do so much more than I typically do on my own. But the whole business of someone with a dirt-worshipping identity getting hooked on something that says “down/ground/earth is BAD”, that suggests that one should detatch from worldly things even as it (or its instructors) say that “getting back into your body” is great… That bothers me.
Okay, okay. I know that I can’t go around policing what everyone else is doing with their exercise regimens, spiritual practices, or lives in general. What I’m saying that I really didn’t want to go down that road. One that starts with something kind of like Wicca or Ecclectic Goddess Spirituality, maybe dabbles in a bit of spell-craft or herb-lore, maybe hits up a belly dance class (’cause that’s so much more empowering than stripping…), does a drop-in yoga class or two to get in touch with breath and embodiment… and then takes a sharp right turn off the woodland path and towards Deepak Chopra.
Once upon a time, I had a husband. He was not a good husband. While we were together, he was straight-up not a good person, although I hope that’s changed and I think at least some of it had to do with his own internalized ideas about what “husband” and “adult man” meant and required. He was also a New Age (ish) guy. The kind of person who bought into The Secret and all its victim-blaming bullshit. The kind of guy who thought therapy meant weakness and/or that it was a waste of time when you could just bandage over the problems with platitudes like “love is letting go of fear”.
When I met him, hearing that he had new-age-ish leaning was a good thing. I thought it meant he’d be open to my Pagan ways, that our worldviews wouldn’t be all that different. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and my feelings about New Age Anything are pretty heavily tinted through the hindsight of that marriage.
That’s part of why it took me so long to be willing to go to a yoga studio. Aside from the cost, and aside from my nervousness about hurting myself, I didn’t want to turn into someone whose elementals circles stopped at Air. I’m up in my head enough as it is, I don’t need to make it worse.
So… Yeah. I guess this hasn’t actually been all that much about Yoga, has it?
Welcome to my brain and my past.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 I’m not talking ten minutes here, I mean the difference between a 25-40 minute at-home session versus a 90-minute class where I don’t have to rely on knowing that I know what I’m doing, because there’s an instructor to make sure I’m not damaging my ligaments in the process.
 However true that statement may actually be, the book by that title was an endless repetition of the main thesis without any suggestions for “how to” or “what if” or “why”. Not okay.
 I blew my right knee out, something like 12 years ago, when I tried to do downward dog without bending my knees. I learned my lesson on that front, but I was afraid I might do something like that again, even with a real-life instructor on hand to make suggestions and correct improper/damaging posture.
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