One of the first teachings in yoga is ahimsa. It means, quite simply, to do no harm. It is something that is basic to yoga, its teachings and practice. People speak of it often especially when acknowledging the choice to be vegan or to not drink alcohol or a number of other things. However, when people start evaluating or examining other teachers or practices or styles it seems to be forgotten. I have certainly seen places where in the discussion of another teacher or style it does come up in way to demonstrate that that teacher or style does overall harm to the yoga community, as in the case of John Friend.
But more often, it is ignored when people get all judgey about yoga. Today I saw this.
I find this video incredible, moving, impressive and yes, even sexy. What I don’t find it to be is offensive, inappropriate or harmful to yoga. There was another video post by Equinox earlier this year that began this divisive discussion about sexing yoga up. I love watching people do yoga. I love watching instructors, I love watching students. I love watching old people, young people, thin people, fat people. I.LOVE.YOGA.PERIOD. Yoga is so so special to me, to my life and to my well being. I love seeing it celebrated by others. I love knowing that they might have the same affection for it that I do. That they might enjoy some of the bliss that I do from having yoga in my life.
I am probably as feminist as they come. But I’m not offended by a video that celebrates the incredible machine that is the body of woman who practices something she loves. This video is a celebration of yoga just as much as it is a celebration of her body, loving her body and loving herself. It celebrates this couple who clearly have an amazing bond that transcends yoga and the physical. It is so wonderful to watch someone gracefully, deliberately and intentionally practice. It is wonderful to watch the human machine, any body type, perform.
The debate over sexing up yoga reaches even to the idea of making it mainstream and trendy. And I completely get the arguments about making it inaccessible in the process. I’ve attended a few blended yoga classes when the new fad appears. It is fun to mix things up a bit and try something different. I always end up back with my old favorites. But I recognize that studios are a business just as much as they are ambassadors of yoga. They need to draw new students, increase class sizes and bring in NEW people to make money, to stay OPEN. As long as the yoga being practiced is pure yoga in whatever style they celebrate I have no problem with yoga bootcamps, yoga barre classes and acroyoga or yogalites. I might not be interested in those styles myself but hey, if someone who has never tried yoga finds her or his way into a studio and on a mat and suddenly is gifted with the same things that yoga has gifted to me I’m good with it.
We are all in this together. We are all ambassadors of yoga, of love and acceptance. Ahimsa means do no harm. It means not judging and accepting people as they are. Judging gets us nowhere but to a place of negativity. In spreading the wonderful message of yoga, let’s make it one of love and acceptance, not judgement.