A lucky thing about my teacher training is that I was in this safe little yoga incubator. The group of fellow students and teachers were open to what I was putting out, and they offered a safe place to be myself without any judgement. Being outside your incubator can be a scary place. There’s a lot of people out there who will tell you that your yoga is not good yoga. They might even tell you your yoga isn’t yoga at all.
If you want to get into the history of it all, other people have done the research and have written on it better than I can. There’s a pretty good chance none of us are practicing “real” yoga, at least not in its original form. Let’s go back to the concept of defending your yoga, though. Notice I didn’t say, “Let’s talk about all those dumb old meanies who don’t like you.” I’m talking about the act of defense.
The ethical practice of ahimsa means to do no harm in word or deed to others or the self. Ahimsa, usually gets thrown out the window when our feelings get hurt. “Oh, she doesn’t like the way I teach? Well, her face looks weird!” To practice ahimsa, requires the practice of compassion and forgiveness. To forgive and to be compassionate, we must reflect within. I had an experience once of a very experienced teacher asking me about my training. I explained that I taught a vinyasa style that’s usually in a heated room. And she said, “Oh, so it’s some sort of Baptiste hybrid?” in a tone I interpreted as condescending. Then she commented, “Oh, I like hot yoga too, but…it’s not all about me.” Huh? What? I spent several hours just being confused, and when I couldn’t decide what the hell this lady was talking about, I just decided to get pissed. “I can’t believe she said that TO ME. Is she implying that I think it’s all about me? What. The. Hell.”
So, let’s get down to the truth. I have no idea what she meant. I couldn’t make sense of it so my brain went to, “You were being attacked. DEFEND YO’SELF!” In all honesty, I do practice a Baptiste-influenced style. So, I must have not liked her tone. When we get pissed about someone’s tone of voice, we are operating completely from the ego. No one owes us fealty or respect. It’s this “all about me” phrase. I will admit that it’s one of those phrases that gets my goat. I’m on high alert about it in any scenario. “Did she just say I was selfish? It’s ON!” When I truly sit with it, I can see that newly meeting a person, expecting them to instantly accept my yoga, my teaching style, and my preferences is very much…ALL ABOUT ME. Also, in retrospect, she may have been indicating she liked hot yoga, but was unable to teach it currently. In the moment, I was so hell-bent on her giving me acceptance that I couldn’t see that she was actually communicating with me and trying to tell me about herself. So, if anything, I shut HER down. I chose defense over compassion, and blamed her for it.
If you think someone is disrespecting you (or your yoga), really sit with it. Is what they are saying true? If it is true, how can you use this information to better yourself AND them? (Ahem, maybe you need to apologize?) If it isn’t true, are there times when you have thought the same thing they said to you about someone else? Can you have compassion for them? Can you have forgiveness and compassion for yourself?