This morning, as I was sitting with a good friend at the back of the yoga studio waiting for practice to begin, I started talking about some of our classmates. Although the term “catty” may be associated with the fairer sex, I take a back seat to no one when it comes to being catty. The targets of my cattiness today were people who seemed to be excessively proud of their appearance. I mentioned to my friend that back in high school we used to call these people “stuck up.”
My reference to life in high school reminded me of how much yoga practice resembles high school, one of the most egalitarian places in America. In high school, at least at my high school, you were judged mostly on your personality and your character (the way you treated other people). It didn’t matter how much money your parents had or whether you were a great intellect or possessed a strong work ethic or had some special skill (music, athletics).
After high school and college, however, things change. Socio-economic status becomes more pervasive and invasive. Relationships often involve either networking or deferring to those with higher socio-economic status.
But yoga is different. It harkens back to the egalitarian days of high school. Students dress mostly the same and people aren’t treated better just because they are more skillful with the various asanas. Your relationships with your classmates depend on your personality and character, not on whether you are “successful” in a socio-economic way.
Coincidentally, at today’s yoga practice, my yogi read a poem (from Elephant Journal) that relates exactly to what I was already thinking. The following are some excerpts:
- Yoga isn’t about our lifestyle, our beliefs, our weight, our diet, our flexibility, how spiritual or enlightened we are—yoga is just about showing up and doing our dance on our mats.
- Yoga doesn’t care if you wear Lululemon or Spiritual Gangster.
- Yoga doesn’t care if you are vegetarian, if you eat meat or know what Kombucha is.
- Yoga doesn’t care what kind of mat you have, brand new or eating away at itself.
- Yoga doesn’t care what religion you believe in.
- Yoga doesn’t care what color your skin is or what gender you choose to love.
- Yoga doesn’t care how much money you have, what house you live in, what car you drive.
- Yoga doesn’t care if you fall over in Trikonasana.
- Yoga doesn’t care if you ever make it into head stand.
- Yoga doesn’t care if you smoke cigarettes and drink whisky.
- Yoga doesn’t care what political party you vote for.
- Yoga doesn’t care if you are single or divorced.
- Yoga doesn’t care if you shop at whole foods.
Yoga is just happy you show up.