studying to teach yoga


An author who friended me on Facebook is beginning her new year using a Bikram yoga dvd to get in shape. Bikram is basically one of the “hot yoga’s”. It’s creator lives in L.A. and stews over the fact that he hasn’t been allowed to lay copyright to the asanas/postures that make up the Bikram practice. As nearly as I can understand it without having gone to a class, there are 26 asanas that do not change from one practice to the next and the yoga is practiced in environments of 105F with 40% humidity levels. Oh, and hydration is frowned upon.

Anyway, this author has been updating on her progress and made a comment on the difficulty of doing the program in front of a mirror.

And I went – mirrors? Because I have yet to see mirrors in a yoga studio or be told by a teacher to go watch myself in a mirror. Aerobics is done in front of a mirror. Weight-lifting. Super narcissistic stuff. But yoga, as I have been taught and as I have read, is an inward focus for several reasons but one of the better ones is that to safely get into the postures – you have to be paying attention to what your body is telling you. Something, I have found, that people don’t do much of when they are worried about how they look.

My comment on the mirrors and inward focus elicited this reply:

Bikram is not chanty, third eye, meditate on the pretty flower yoga. Bikram is HARD CORE yoga and your posture counts! Hence, the mirrors!

Whoa! Step back from your organic fiber Lululemon mat there Yoga Princess.

Of course, I didn’t take that advice and launched a reply in spite of Rob’s advice to just let it go. But afterwards, I wondered how yogina that was of me. I had spent the evening before reading B.K.S. Iyengar’s definitive book Light on Yoga and nearly all of what he had to say struck deep chords. I wasn’t getting off to a good start as a budding teacher myself if I could let someone else’s misinformation ruffle me, was I? And picking a bone on someone else’s Facebook profile is just bad form.

So I deleted the comment though this post is certainly not the highest of the roads I could have taken. A more enlightened person wouldn’t have even written about the incident. But I am not quite the hemp wearing navel gazer yet (though I got the most awesome hemp yoga pants from Rob for my birthday) and feel compelled to set the record straight.

I don’t chant. I barely meditate though my inner focus is improving. I am all about the breathing and listening to my body because I am more concerned with still being about to use this body 25 years from now than I am about being a certain size. And it’s not posture. It’s alignment and it matters because you can really hurt yourself if you aren’t properly aligned though anyone who is paying even the slightest attention can align themselves without having to gaze at themselves.

Oh and there are no fucking flowers involved. Flowers? That is so Beatles. That’s TM, not yoga, and a tired Hollywood propagated stereo-type that should have been left behind with 80’s sitcoms.

Competitive yoga is like turning to the dark side of the force, and we all know how well that turns out in the long run. But it was bad, bad, bad to take it personally. Gotta work on that.