I guess you could call me that, except for the fact that I haven’t really returned to the fold as yet, if ever.
I’m finding myself feeling increasingly alienated from Ashtanga culture and its quirks. To wit:
- I no longer understand how I could have ever put up with having a teacher dictate to me what poses I can practice, and what poses I cannot. Would I put up with a professor telling me what books I can read? What papers I can write? Would I put up with a teacher telling my kids that they can’t work out the statistics on their baseball cards because they haven’t yet been “taught” algebra in school?
- I no longer understand how there can be any such thing as “criminal” behavior in yoga. How can what is supposed to be a peaceful practice even have room for such a notion? How can any yoga be “wrong”?
- I no longer understand how a teacher can tell a student that running or biking for fun and fitness is “not recommended”. Yoga may or may not be enough for an individual in terms of fitness, and let’s face it: fitness is important, and time is limited. And besides, sometimes learning is enhanced by breaks from learning.
- I no longer understand how it could be that pranayama is taught only to students who reach a certain proficiency in asana. What does one have to do with the other? Why should any of the eight limbs of yoga be withheld from anyone? Does anyone HONESTLY believe that pranayama can cause DEATH? I mean, seriously?
- I no longer understand how it is that so many yoga teachers have treated their friends and significant others in ways that I consider to be morally/ethically questionable. If teachers are supposed to lead by example, what are we supposed to learn from teachers who cheat on their significant others? I suppose that this goes beyond the Ashtanga world, so my yoga-alienation goes beyond the Ashtanga world, obviously.
- I no longer understand how it is that yoga can be taught in a linear manner which, by its very nature, engenders competitiveness amongs its practitioners.
- I no longer understand how it is that proficiency in practice is what separates one class of teachers from another or how it could be that in order to teach, one has to have been taught by one particular family in one particular corner of the world? And how can it be that those who break from that fold are held in such contempt?
I no longer understand how it is that I no longer understand how I could have ever believed such crap. As I distance myself from Ashtanga, I find myself recoiling at the very notions to which I clung in the past.
It feels as if I have left a cult. And I am deprogramming.
I want to believe what I used to believe. I want to feel that “my” yoga is superior to all others, like I used to feel. I want to believe that if I am practicing a pose, it is because I “earned” it. But I know better now. And I kind of wish I didn’t.