To the Western mind, yoga is absurd. Growing up in a Christian society, we are born sinners and we need to repent. We are constantly being told in various ways, we are not good enough. Whether we are having images of “success and beauty” imprinted onto our minds (psychological fact: the more you see something, the more you believe it, even if it’s insane) through the media’s various channels of film, television, print, radio and Internet. Constantly being told we are not pretty enough, rich enough, young enough, tall enough, popular enough, healthy enough, strong enough, loose enough. We are told these things not directly, but by showing us what we don’t have and how great it would be if we had it. In subtle ways and not so subtle ways, we are also told something is wrong, something is missing, but if you buy this you will be happier. Remember, the key to marketing is making you feel that you need something. Which is saying you are not enough right now. You do not have enough right now etc. This is reinforced by our coaches, our teachers and even our parents telling us “we could be better.” If you work harder, study harder, practice harder etc… you will be better. You will become smarter, stronger, richer and more respected.
This is our societal message, the program jammed down our throat by a society that is more interested in us buying its products than actually being well. Eventually, we start believing this program (esp. since there is no alternative message in our mainstream). We bring this program to all situations and things. We look at ourselves naked in the mirror, and we have judgmental and critical thoughts about ourselves and our bodies. We can no longer see our own beauty, because our uniqueness doesn’t fit the images that have been jammed down our throats. We even bring this program to yoga class, where people are pushing themselves to become looser or stronger, skinnier and prettier etc… You can even find yoga instructors pushing people verbally and physically deeper into the poses as if somewhere there is proof that looser people are healthier and happier people. People bring this crap to yoga, and they turn their yoga practice into crap. These people don’t even know they are doing this, because they are not looking to disempower their crap, they are too busy trying to do the poses correctly (see “Absurdity of Competition“) and too busy trying to change themselves into the image they have been taught they should be.
The absurdity of yoga is: Yoga doesn’t want to change you! Yoga doesn’t want you to be flexible or strong or skinny or pretty or even to stay young. In our society, this is absurd! Yoga doesn’t want to change you, because yoga doesn’t come from the perspective that you are ugly, wrong and broken in the first place. Why would you want to change something as beautiful and perfect as yourself? Not seeing your own perfection and beauty is humans’ greatest disease and, I might add, the root cause of almost all disease. Modern medicine is telling us that over 90% of disease is stress-related, and the foundation of stress is not being okay with what is.
What yoga is trying to accomplish is to care for yourself, not change yourself. Its approach is more akin to brushing your teeth than modern exercise. When you brush your teeth, you are not trying to change your teeth, you are trying to care for your teeth. This is very different, because the only way to care for anything is to touch it gently. This gentleness (moderation) requires loads of strength. This is Jesus strength and Buddha strength, Mother Teresa strength and Gandhi strength etc… because it takes a lot of strength to face your fears and not buy into societal norms. Gentleness will not force your body to look in a manner it was never meant to look, and gentleness will not force your body to fit society’s image of beauty or masculinity. Since you have never seen a healthy relationship respond positively to force and aggression, including the one you have with yourself, this is the beginning of healing. This gentleness is not only a quality, it’s a muscle, and as you grow this muscle, every relationship in your life benefits.
WOW! This yoga is absurd. 🙂