Yoga, as a field, has taken a few strange detours lately—the NYT’s article promoting W. Broad’s book on yoga wrecking bodies, the resignation of the founder of Anusara-yoga under the scrutiny of scandal, a local yoga teacher filming and offering herself to the internet while practicing in her bra and panties. Oh boy. As I said to my mother’s dog when he pooped in my house, WTF?! All these hoo-haas distract students, baffle teachers, and push the central intention of yoga into the background. The personalities take center-stage, and the emphasis on healing and growth blur into the backlight.
So, where is the truth in all this? Does yoga heal or hurt? Will yoga liberate bodies and minds, or will it be the next fertile landscape for erotica and scandalous behavior? Well, you know what I’d like to think. But, what I know for sure is that I witness dozens of students each week come to the mat with a fair amount of life’s stress on their shoulders. And, I notice that somewhere around 20 minutes into their practice, we have a significant release, an opening, a lightening of the load. As the practice continues, whether it is a 60 or 90 minute class, the deepening continues to nourish our bodies, minds, and spirits, so much so, that at the end of the class, there is a true feeling of freedom. This isn’t just what I witness as teacher, but it is what I experience on the mat as student as well.
My suggestion is simply this: Screw the experts. When you get on your mat, trust what you know. You know your breath. You may not know the William Broad, the John Friend of Anusara, or the scantily-clad yogi on stage. But, you know your breath. You know your own thoughts and through practice, you know that we have the opportunity to work together to dissolve blocks to our happiness. Trust what you know. This trust leads us out of the chaos and directly into clarity and compassion. Trust what you know.