I started going to yoga every Thursday night and Saturday morning and it is the single greatest thing I’ve ever done. Well, except this past Saturday, because I have a sinus thing, and when I went on Thursday I thought my head was going to explode from the pressure. But I mean, I’ve been getting into my practice.
Technically, I’ve been doing yoga on-and-off for over ten years. My #extremelywoke high school (lol) allowed us to choose gym class activities, so my cohort immediately chose yoga because of the promise of laying around for 5-10 minutes at the end. (I now know that this is savasana, and it’s a real posture, you guys!) At 15, I was shocked at how challenging it was—at 26, the challenge is like a drug! A super beneficial, calming drug. Walking out of a yoga class is like the first sips of wine after a long, hard day—without the calories and sugar. The more I go, the better I feel. Maybe that’s why I’m writing about it right now—I need my fix because I missed class on Saturday.
Honestly, yoga is the closest thing to religion I can experience without getting grossed out. I’m basically a she-devil/antichrist, so anything spiritual completely turns me off. That’s why yoga is so grounding—it’s about being at home in your physical body and showing gratitude for what you’re tangibly able to achieve. It’s about honoring your earthly self and your daily experience. It’s the opposite of contemptus mundi (RT if you took way too many Medieval Lit classes).
What’s amazing to me is how something so ancient and ubiquitous can still be so misunderstood. From mis-lede-ing articles to the undeniable class & race issues of many contemporary forms of practice, to an actual claim that practicing yoga contributes to white supremacy, it can be a touchy subject. But studies claim yoga helps your brain, your anxiety and depression, and your genes, all without the icky charges of cultural appropriation. Just, try not to smoke weed while you’re doing it.
So, what, if anything, needs to change?
- Di. Ver. Si. Ty. Say it with me! DIVERSITY. There was literally one person of color in my last yoga class. That might have to do with a number of factors, like geography and race & class demographics (apparently I live in the 28th highest-income county in the United States?! Out of over 3,000?! No one told my broke ass.), but it’s still tragic. When all the media representation of yoga is impossibly thin, hot white women in $100 leggings, I get why a more diverse group (diverse in terms of race, gender, class, age, etc) would be turned off by it.
- We need to stop fetishizing brands and gear. It’s completely counterintuitive for yogis to be so materialistic (I am the worst offender, trust me)! You don’t need to look cute in class—you’re just going to sweat through your clothes anyway! Like, these and this will do just fine.
- The cult of yoga shouldn’t be a distraction from our real lives. It’s so easy to leave a yoga class feeling spiritually cleansed, but it’s not a stand-in for reality. Just ask this former lulu employee.
- And finally, more free or inexpensive classes. My classes are included with my regular gym membership, thank goodness, but at studios, drop-in classes are upwards of $15! My gym membership, therefore, pays for itself in a week. A monthly unlimited pass to a studio costs as much as my car payment. Check out your local community centers and colleges to see if they’re offering classes!
Some cool yoga resources I found on the vast internet:
Do you practice? HMU with all your best knowledge.