Final Weeks…

Hello all! I’ve been missing posting for the last couple of weeks, but have loved seeing the quotes go up. I am entering my last week of classes, and then finals begin, so I anticipate a couple of busy weeks ahead… Before that begins, I wanted to spend some time today to write a bit about one of my classes.

I’m currently finishing up a seminar in ethics, and for our final project and paper, we were instructed to research an ethical issue which is important in our lives, but which we don’t quite know how to deal with properly. Naturally, I was drawn first to yoga, and I began this assignment questioning the role of consumerism in yoga. I live and teach in an environment which is constantly telling me to buy more, want more, keep up… But I surround myself with yoga, meditation, and Reiki, which tells me I am already enough, just as I am; that my clothes, my hair, my weight don’t change the core of me; and that mindful breath and movement, on and off the mat, will help me create the space for my own natural morality to emerge. I have, for years, been feeling the clash of these messages in my life. It seems dishonest to me, that the yoga industry markets high-priced products (clothes, mats, blocks, straps, towels, bags, and even foods), while the message of the practice says these things are unnecessary.

More important to me is the issue of harm. People exploring yoga are usually looking for something more than just exercise; if all we wanted was to get in shape, we’d take up jogging or hop on the elliptical. Instead, we twist our bodies into awkward and difficult poses, we chant, we breathe, we sweat, we study a very spiritual path. Yogis become emotionally and spiritually invested in their practice. To be inundated with messages telling me that I cannot do yoga to the fullest without this product or that special diet calls into question my spiritual practice and, further, the way I choose to live my life. How can these two cultures which I am immersed in work in harmony in my life? How can I create an honest, nourishing, and ethical environment in which to share the heart of the yoga practice I love, even though I live and teach in a country where yoga has become not only a spiritual path, but a $5.7 billion industry?

I’d love to hear from you: how do you see these things in your practice and your life? How do you think a yoga teacher should address these issues? Does the question of ethical living even have a place, for you, in an asana class? Leave a comment or send an e-mail and let me know!

~ by Carmen Celeste Thurston on April 18, 2011.

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