only half dead in India, 2008
I used to be a prolific yoga blogger. I used to be a well-known yoga blogger, once called a fierce voice in the yoga blogosphere, and was even quoted in the New York Times during the Tara Stiles controversy. But everything has its expiration date.
I got tired. I got tired of writing about Yoga in OMerika because I thought, “what else can I write about?” I read this excellent piece today and it addresses issues that I wrote about years ago. Bottom line, same shit, different day. Not much has changed since I started writing this blog in 2005, almost 10 years ago. The funny thing is, you know how each generation thinks they’re original, like they’re the first ones to come up with an idea? Kinda sorta how I feel when I read a yoga blog nowadays, like, been there, done that, you young whipper-snapper, ’cause back in my day….
It has also appeared for quite some time that the yoga blogosphere has become a tad cliquey, all rah rah, kiss kiss, pat each other on the back. OK, a lot cliquey. When I first started this blog the yoga blogosphere was a bit more outlaw-ish, the voices were of different tones, not so scholarly. Not that there is anything wrong with scholarly (hey, I went to grad school), but I remember being called “anti-intellectual” by a well-known yoga blogger because I dared to question the overanalysis and didacticism. I knew I was no longer in the top echelon of yoga bloggers (my tongue is firmly in cheek) when this post only received 5 comments where in the past I know it would have generated many more. One has to be one of the Kool Kids now, someone who is Someone to continue to get your blog posts Facebooked, tweeted, or interviewed or asked to review books. You know what Groucho Marx said about being a member of a club. Another photo of the latest celeb du jour walking into a yoga studio? Really?
Over the past year I have had some major epiphanies that rocked my energy body. Last March I dealt with two very problematic people on my yoga retreat in India who I realized later were my teachers. Of course I did not realize it at the time because then I only wanted to kick their ungrateful asses into the Arabian Sea, but they taught me much about how to deal with people of their types so I thank them. They were a lesson in how everyone can be your teacher and the more difficult ones more so.
I dealt with betrayal. Lots and lots of meditation helped me with that one. I am here to tell you that if someone fucks with you, just sit and meditate daily on their sorry ass until the vision of them no longer brings up feelings of attachment or aversion, until you can see them and feel neutrality. It works and it’s wonderful. Very freeing. I learned to finally love myself completely. Not a bad lesson to learn as I enter my 6th decade of this incarnation.
I dealt with trust issues I have with women and also (again) in my local yoga world. The resolution to that is that I am damn fine with being alone and a loner. Well, I was already, but I truly came into my own in 2013. Probably because I finally owned what I do. I’ve been teaching since 2002 and it took me all this time to realize that yes, I AM a damn good teacher, I am unique in what I do and fuck outside validation, I don’t need it. My yoga is outside the box and I own the fact that what I offer is not found elsewhere. I have studied with direct students of Krishnamacharya both here and in India and am damn proud of that. Never mistake my confidence for arrogance. Yes I do say I teach Real Yoga and don’t care if someone takes offense. Mine is a bold statement and people like J.Brown who puts it out there when he says that he “seeks to change the dialog and direction of yoga practice in the west” inspire me. You bet your asana I do the same in my little corner of the yoga world, one body at a time (“…you taught me more about Yoga in five minutes than anyone I’ve ever met in a yoga class, teacher or otherwise,” said a satisfied Yoga customer.)
I also finally came into my own as an energy worker. That was a huge energetic shift for me in 2013, so much so the shift was also physical. It is no coincidence that I learned I am part Native American (more on that below) in the same year I decided to make known the energy healing work I have practiced for over 10 years — because my work is akin to that of a Medicine Woman. Energy healing is a deep, spiritual practice for me. It feels natural. I finally own that I am a facilitator of profound change.
I am happy to reside in my little yoga cave of my home studio with only two or three students in class. If all my students suddenly disappeared, I am fine with that. Bottom line, if I never taught another class in my life, I’m good. The thought of never teaching again for whatever reason used to freak me out. “Yoga teacher” used to be my identity but no longer. I have peeled my onion layers down to the core. Yoga is life, but Life is more than Yoga. DING DING DING! EPIPHANY TIME. I am not This or That because I am so much more.
The biggest revelation of 2013 came to me in the form of genetic testing and discovering my true ancestry. I grew up believing I was 50/50 German-Polish, but I also always intuited that I wasn’t. I am part Native American, enough that I can self-identify as a Native American; unfortunately, a genetic test can not determine tribe. Either I was the product of an affair or my sister was really my mother. My nephew who is only 7 years younger is probably my half-brother. How would you handle that if you found out in your late 50s that you were lied to about your heritage and parentage?
As for handling things, after planning my 8th trip to India (departure in 9 days) for yoga study, my yoga therapy course was cancelled just last week. This affected my entire trip because my trips are a tax write-off — no yoga study, no tax write-off. Plans I had made almost a year ago and reservations on planes and trains all had to be changed when I got the news. I cancelled the last 7 weeks of my trip and I would have cancelled the entire trip but I would have lost too much money in airfare and other fees so my trip changed in one day from almost 3 months to one month. Dharma 101: How Life Changes in a Second.
The day I received the news of the course cancellation I was more than a little freaked but by evening I was at peace. A deep peace and I was surprised at how deep that peace was — because YOGA ISN’T REAL YOGA UNLESS IT HELPS YOU DEAL WITH HOW LIFE CAN CHANGE IN A SECOND.
Knowing how I love India (in reality it’s a love-hate relationship), my friends thought I’d be more upset than I was about cutting my trip by more than half. Nope, not really. Because that’s where the yoga rubber hits the road. What good is your yoga if you can’t deal effectively with life’s major and minor ups and downs?
As for Ma India Herself, if this upcoming trip is my last I am good with that. Finally. Because in the past the thought of never returning to India created such angst I would shake. Even cry. India is in my bones and always will be and each time I am there I know I am Home. I know I will die there but just like Yoga Teacher became a piece of my identity, so did India. DING DING DING! EPIPHANY TIME. I am not This or That because I am so much more.
Real Yoga sure as hell ain’t about the asana but I already knew that. 108 Sun Salutations or a sick arm balance would not have helped me when I learned that the woman I thought was my mother was probably really my grandmother. Or maybe my sister is really my mother. I will never know. Made up yoga, as A. G. Mohan calls what passes for yoga nowadays, could never help me with that.
Real Yoga is so much more. It’s Freedom.