I am a yoga instructor and walked out another yoga instructor’s class this morning. Shameful, I know. I’ve always been able take something positive away from every yoga class, even the rare classes I don’t enjoy so much. Today was different. I hesitate to be negative on a yoga blog or negative in general, but sometimes you can’t help but have an uncomfortable or less than pleasant moment. I think it’s important though for me to write and share from a place of honesty and act as my authentic self.
Monday morning began bright and early with Yin Yoga. Yin Yoga is a very slow, gentle, centering yoga practice that incorporates passive resting poses done on the floor. Unlike many yoga classes that include dynamic flow poses, Yin yoga works to dramatically increase flexibility and enhance the energy distribution through the body by holding poses for longer periods of time. There are Three basic principals of yin yoga. Holding a posture for a longer period of time, longer than usual. Edge of resistance that brings us to that place of overall sensation, intensity, pressure and real pain. It’s very hard for people to be able to tell the difference. This brings us to a place where we connect with our perception of what discomfort verses pain is, and learning to work through discomfort. Finding stillness in a posture and the mind, not fidgeting, not letting the brain be very active. Perhaps focusing on a single point perhaps such as the breath. Clearing thoughts from the mind and sitting in stillness and peace.
This morning the instructor read from a book for EVERY single posture we held, with no moments of silence. Don’t get me wrong…some short words of inspiration throughout the class can be powerful, but hearing someone fill our minds with thoughts throughout an entire class where we come to this specific yoga to relax our muscles and quiet the mind is contradictory. I began to crave silence. I must have heard the word Samadhi 10 times during one of the postures and it was too confusing to understand while trying to relax my mind. And then…I hear her talk about God. I won’t get into what specifically was said, but I had to ask myself if I really just heard a reference to the “connection of meditation to God.” After I hear God for the third time in one posture I quietly begin to roll my mat up and leave. I have never heard God mentioned in a public yoga class ever! I’m not sensitive to hearing about God and I’m not saying I’m religious or not religious, so please don’t misunderstand. I don’t mean for this to sound like I am upset or it affected me… I simply think it is not appropriate. It’s just any talk of religion or God in yoga is a red flag! Yoga is NOT a religion. Yes, one could have a spiritual or religious experience in their practice and yoga could be incorporated into religion if one choses to do so. A standard yoga class, however, has nothing to do with religion and to incorporate God into a class is confusing and misleading. It’s teaching something that yoga is not. I did not come to a religious institution this morning, I came to yoga! I think that if this had been my first yoga class I probably would not have returned to yoga. I wonder if there were any new students in class today. So anyways…I left the class at 7:35am and was fortunate to have my swim gear in my bag. I hit the “reset” button in my head and focused on triathlon training with a refreshing 1/2 mile swim which felt great after a 7 mile run yesterday.
Do you have any thoughts about the class today? I’d love to hear what you think about this.