As I've written before (blog "Polarity") I wanted to do a pilgrimage in yoga. I was looking so very much forward to this trip, it has been in the planning for around 8 months. I knew exactly how to travel, where to go, how far and what my goals were.
I was to go on my bike, travel around 1000 kilometres through Germany and Denmark, do yoga at every stop in exchange for bed & breakfast. I wanted to see if I could get the calm energy from my yoga practice into my riding and the power from the riding into my practice!
Unfortunately, I have had to cancel.....
In my naivety I thought "Oh, that will be a hit, yoga studios will be interested in having a free class of yoga and will of course put me up for the night. If I have to pay for accomodation, so be it! I will still have connected with new, interesting people to learn from! It will be a new perspective, another type of yoga, a new person to get to know! That'll be no problem!" I was, sadly, very wrong!
I have sent out in an obscene amount of emails, had ridiculously few answers, and they were a smudge judgemental I felt "No thank you we are not interested in your type of yoga, we only do ashtanga/power/goat yoga!"
Yoga means to unite (to yoke) and that's why it is a very individual path to take. It unites your body and spirit. There are 8 limbs of yoga, or 8 rules for you to focus on to be able to yoke body and spirit and thereby become a better person and a better Yogi (man) or Yogini (woman). In these "rules" there are yamas and niyamas, a way to govern your body on the mat, or to create the best circumstances for your practice by being a good person.
So yoga is not only what you're doing on the mat but very much (maybe even more?) what you do outside of the physical practice.
I was surprised as to how the people I contacted reacted! They put themselves on a pedestal, looked down over their nose on the type of yoga I do because it wasn't "the right kind"! Or maybe they felt threatened? Or as their yoga had moved so much for them I was stupid for not "choose wisely", i.e. their yoga?
I have realised that I feel the same about this yoga world attitude as I do towards religion. I do not understand why people are so scared of each other and different ways to live our lives!
For me ALL religions in the world are rooted in the same; kindness - acceptance - respect - "do unto others". It does not matter if His name is God or Allah or Shiva - we turn to Him as according to our cultural background but He does the same; makes us feel safe, taken care of and loved. We should not judge others for believing "another deity" because there is only One!
Yoga is the same!... for me, anyway! There is only one yoga - but it is individual interpretation! I want to make sure I am lean and fit then chances are I do a yoga for fitness! If I like slow cycles and staying in poses for a long time I do yin yoga. Or maybe I do both to balance my body out?? The thing is that is is individual and cannot be judged! You cannot say "Oh, this'll be wrong for you! What you wanna do is this....!!"
On the other had it is very healthy to try to do things you do not normally do as to learn - if not anything else - WHY the way you do it actually is the best!!
Maybe this attitude is a leftover from my many years as a primary teacher?
I think the reason there is animosity between religions is that people are scared! Scared of finding out that "their chosen path", and maybe their whole life, is not the real one! Is that also the truth in the yogic world? That when you do and teach your yoga to others you think you become a Yogi/Yogini with truths to tell (albeit actually only truths for you!!) and others MUST SEE the light?
Is that why there is an air of judgement in classes (come on! We all know what it's like to be in a new class!!) or between teachers? Or if you are to have yoga classes in a fitness center or studio you often HAVE to teach it after a certain template?
I do not think I am The One sitting with the Truth. But I know I am on my way finding MY Truth. The experiences I have had and still have I can share with you, as a mirror to reflect and deepen the understanding of your own path in this world.
I am not one to give up - and my yoga pilgrimage WILL happen and I WILL find places to do a free yoga class, new people and new things to learn.
As a biker there is one thing I truely love; when you're out riding and you pass another bike you raise your left hand to greet a fellow biker. It does not matter if you are a new biker or have been riding for decade, you just acknowledge that someone else has chosen the path too!
..... wouldn't it be great if we could connect all the Yogis and Yoginis in the world like that too?