By Keri Mangis - writer, teacher and speaker - Minneapolis, US.
Published on 21 Nov 2013 in the Elephant Journal.
Yoga’s pissed off.
And she’s on a rampage: an eight-limbed, skull-wearing, black-tongued, red-eyed, fierce kind of rampage.
Because despite what we may think, she doesn’t care a wit about being popular. She doesn’t care about fitting in.
She’s angry because her message, her great gift to humankind, is being cut off, suppressed and sacrificed at the feet of consumerism, power and greed. And she’s angry with those of us who claim to love her most.
Why are we reaping this scorn from her? Because out of our overwhelming, blinding desire to share yoga with as many people as possible, we have turned her over to the over-zealous patriarchy and sent her down the chute of Western consumerism.
To fit into this chute, however, we had to make some alterations and adjustments. We cut off most of her limbs, stripped her of her spirituality, yanked out her heart, carefully translated her language into some safe, pleasant sounding words and then polished her exterior with a tough and powerful new look that’s easily modified depending on the audience.
Next, we put her in a three-piece suit and tied the tie extra tight, combed down her unruly hair, then blithely allowed the masculine ways of our society—power, control, “doing”, personal gain, competition, and being right to have their way with her.
We mixed and matched her with anything that would increase her exposure and likeability—pilates, fitness, dance, weights, Christianity, Zumba, golf, running and celebrities. We made her a trend and a plaything for the marketplace to buy and sell, right next to electronics and automobiles.
Now, look around and see what we’ve done to her in our oh-so-noble desire to spread the word.
We’ve give up authenticity, spontaneity and creativity for canned classes, rote sequences and flash in the pan yoga gurus.
We’ve given up true peace, stillness and self-compassion for the promise of weight loss, a better butt and Lululemon leggings.
We’ve given up experiences with wise teachers sharing stories and lessons from their heart for canned young teachers fresh off an assembly line (which is where yoga studios make the most money) complete with preprogrammed new-age lingo, a fake smile and someone else’s poem.
We’ve given up silence and introspection for constant, jarring music, florescent lighting and myriad distractions.
We’ve give up sitting with periods of discomfort to never having to face it…at least not in our yoga classes!
And we’re losing Savasana, that one, glorious pose at the end, one minute at a time, for one more round of Sun Salutations and reminders to hurry and register for the upcoming arm balance workshop before it sells out.
Our love for her evidently had a shadow side: a lack of total and complete trust in her.
We didn’t believe she was enough. We didn’t think she’d be accepted as she was. And we forgot that she is inherently feminine and that her true power and gifts lie in her femininity; her grace, gentleness, compassion, community, vulnerability and unconditional love.
Now she is fighting back. I hear her powerful voice roar, “Who the hell dressed me up in this masculine costume? Who thinks they know so much more about me than I do myself? Leave me be, I tell you, I have more power than you can possibly imagine! And I am only interested in teaching those who have ears to hear my message!”
Our world is at a desperate tipping point.
We see pain and suffering living right next door to greed and narcissism. We go about our days in hidden fear, self-loathing, judgment and isolation. As a nation, we have never been more divided.
Yoga’s raw and un-muffled teachings of oneness, compassion, acceptance and surrender are critically needed. We urgently need the promised healing and balance of yoga and the inner transformation she is capable of cultivating within us. But only in her completeness.
We have nothing to gain by continuing to strip her down and cut her off. We do not win by handing her over to the capitalist markets to use and abuse her for personal gain and profit.
Now yoga’s talkin’ and it’s time we listen! No more trying to make her popular. No more changing her form to fit into our ways. No more marketing gimmicks and neon lights. No more odd pairings. And no more parading her through the streets on a leash!
Let’s answer her call with a Hell Yes!
Let’s show her our true, fearless, radical love for her.
Let’s come together and free her from the stranglehold of Westernization and commoditization! Let’s free her from our desire for higher profit margins, sold-out workshops and a potential placement on a magazine cover.
Let’s take her back and restore her wild, free-flowing feminine self! And let’s courageously share her - completely and unapologetically - finally unleashing the richness and fullness of her wisdom, power and love into our world!