Recently, while scrolling through various Social Media and catching up on all the latest online conversations, I came across several groups discussing the various forms of yoga, and surprisingly, a lot of negativity around the basic explosion of the practice. One hot topic was “Brewga” - a combination of beer and yoga - which had folks bringing up kitten yoga, goat yoga, wine yoga and all these other combinations of the word yoga with various animals, food/drinks, and activities. Can you say Nap Yoga?!?—sign me up for THAT one, please! Seriously though, I was shocked when I read all the comments from people saying that these are not “real” yoga.
Personally, I love yoga in all forms. However, my favorite is a more traditional practice, Ashtanga, which can be a very physically demanding, but ultimately wonderfully healing and steadying modality. Since this is what I study the most, and it does have much more traditional or direct roots, I may be surrounded by a few more yoga "purists" than most. To these, when they complain, I usually just ignore or give them a big Pssshaw! I mean, how can Kitten Yoga be bad, Am I right?
Yoga, at its roots, is all about unity. It’s about being one. Peace, balance, love, stability—all of these words come to mind when I hear the word yoga (which in Sanskrit means Union). When people neglect to see the forest for the trees, I often wonder if perhaps I could ask them to take a second and step back, get a better look at what is going on in any of these various forms of yoga. When we celebrate yoga through things like goat yoga, we are celebrating a sense of community and serving to increase human interaction and even human to animal interaction. We are sponsoring humanity—we are increasing the value of relationships each time we sponsor an event like this.
YOGA IS UNITY
Yoga East participates regularly in various forms of yoga because it is a LOT of fun AND it raises a LOT of money for area non-profit agencies. We’ve hosted two Kitten Yoga events and are about to host our very first Goat Yoga class. Many other super secret, special events are in the works as well. Why do we do it? Because it is fun! It helps spread the word about yoga in a de-mystifying, low pressure environment that just so happens to also raise a ton of money for charities that are near and dear to our hearts. These fun yoga events may introduce a person to the practice of yoga that might not otherwise have tried because of misunderstandings, misconceptions or even fear of the practice. To me, the unity that is provided in such fun events is far more valuable than the fact that we may not have the best form or we may not practice any special breath work. I will choose this celebration of community over formality every single time. Afterall, if we aren't having fun, how on earth is the practice sustainable?
One of Manju’s (My Teacher's) Tag lines is, “Inspiration, Instillation, THEN Information.” This means, as someone that loves Yoga—loves the daily, consistent dedication to the practice, it is my role to inspire people that may not have the exposure to its rich history and many blessings. Once that inspiration has been gifted, THEN, I can help install the practice. The last thing I’m supposed to do is scare people away with all the information about what Yoga is NOT. In each event, it is the goal of Yoga East, our Teachers and (I hope) every person that attends, to connect. We want to build a sense of belonging. We create the safe space where every participant can feel the joy, love, and happiness of the practice and the community of each class.
In a world filled with so much violence, crime, hatred, ugliness, I find that Yoga helps me see beauty. It is my faith and my practice that keep me from the despair that is so prevalent when we watch the news (or scroll through our news feed). When I practice yoga, I can turn that off, calm down the worries about my children, my bills, my responsibilities, and focus on how incredibly blessed I am—blessed to breathe, to move, to love. Its this practice that helps me see there is light in the darkness of our time.
I want to spread that light. I want to spread that love. I want to do it in whatever capacity I possibly can to try to help stop a tragedy in whatever form. If I –through the help of this wonderful Yoga East Community of teachers, practitioners, and supporters can help spread the love and joy of a Yoga Practice, in whatever capacity, then I know we have made a difference. If I can create a sense of Community, a connection with others, then I know it is a success.
What does that mean? It means Yoga East will support Yoga in the community, in whatever reasonable way possible, if it helps to raise awareness of, support for, and genuine Community. We have events popping up all through this spring and summer, and I hope that you can join us. Whether you’ve been practicing yoga for years, or you just really want to see what it’s like to practice yoga around farm animals-- In whatever form that the practice needs to take—as long as it can spread the love and joy—we want to support that. Who knows, maybe we will inspire the next Yogi, or the next leader, or at the very least, show love to each other and possibly someone new who needs it desperately.
Check out our Special Events page, and follow Yoga East on Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and event YouTube) to stay up to date in all the fun ways we can bring Yoga to the community. Help us spread the love by your donations, your attendance, and even a membership with us. Most of all, just dedicate the time to your own Yoga Practice, in whatever form. We promise to continue to work towards providing the safe, fun atmosphere both in and outside the studio, for you to get your Yoga on.
Jennifer Dixon E-RYT500 & the Yoga East Team