Why I stopped practicing Yoga
A year and a half ago I realised that I was entrenched in an environment that breed shame around ability, advocated for the thin ideal, promoted diet culture and valued aesthetic performance as a qualification for #wokeness. So, what did I do? Disappear.
The white washed yoga industry is a dark and seductive place, it idealises aesthetic over felt experience- by focusing on performance and fitness, it forgets that asana (movement) is only one of the eight principles it is founded upon. It has become a privileged environment where elitist studios are for the few and not the many and its poster is now a “perfect” Instagram beach shot symbolising #health.
As a blonde, white, female it’s important that I share this message. My hyper-mobility has been fetishised, I’ve been hired based on appearance over ability, values or qualifications. The current Westernised system has castrated itself from the very umbilical cord it stemmed from and I colluded with this new “sexy” yoga.
The split between those seeking physical development versus those seeking spiritual development is extreme, and this lack of awareness to inner experience disconnects practitioners from their body. The teaching of the traditions has been diluted, culturally appropriated and… destroyed.
So what is yoga? Yoga is a spiritual practice which teaches us to “yoke” or unite our body, mind and soul. It is a way of life on and off of the mat- what happens outside of the yoga studio is more important than the handstand you do, the mala beads you wear (do you even use them?!), or how much Lulu Lemon you own. Yoga surpasses personal gain.
Its over 5000 years old, stemmed from India and this must not be forgotten.
As a disclaimer: there are teachers who do not culturally appropriate the practice, they are few and far between. I welcome suggestions, as after a year and a half I may dust the cobwebs off of my mat