I think some people get the false impression that yoga is all hand holding and “hippie bullshit.” I’ll have to admit, looking out across the thousands of people that attended DC Yoga on the Mall this year it did sorta look like a hippie convention complete with braided hair, prayer beads, and a group hug at the end (which I luckily missed out on). Trust me; I’m not one for stranger touching. I enjoy yoga because it challenges me, both physically, and mentally. It forces me to come out of my comfort zone, even if that means occasionally holding the hand of the person next to me or assisting them in a stretch. Yoga is what you make of it. If you want to use it as a gateway to Buddhism, that’s your choice. If you want to use it to build strength and stability to increase your abilities as an athlete, it works for that too! There are so many different styles of yoga, and yoga instructors, to choose from. If you don’t find the right fit the first time, keep trying! I have encountered several teachers that I didn’t mesh well with.
Another thing that weirds me out about yoga, that guided OM sound that some teachers make you do. What does that even mean? According to Wikipedia its origins are greatly rooted in faith, namely Hinduism. For the most part, I just opt not to do it. I don’t think most western yoga teachers understand its use or origins. Guided meditation as a whole is something I still struggle with. I think it dates back to my resistance to organized religion that started as a child. I don’t like being told what to believe. The reason I can accept most meditation practices in yoga is because you’re encouraged to be true to yourself — and frankly, I find it soothing.
The point is, just like with everything else in life you can LOVE something and not agree with every single aspect of it. I personally like power Vinyasa yoga. It moves quickly, challenges muscle strength and balance, and allows me to play around with inversions – which is my favorite part! Kicking up into handstands makes me feel like a kid again. If you find a class that is the right match for you it can be really fun. I’m currently going to Honest Soul Yoga which is temporarily being run out of the owner’s basement. The official studio will open in Alexandria in July and maybe I can convince some of you to stop by. I think I’d like to get into teaching, and plan on doing teacher training once the studio is up and running. It’s all about pushing yourself further.
Stay tuned, friends!