Quick post: I’ve noticed that something profoundly hilarious occurs whenever someone admits that they haven’t tried yoga before & have no interest in trying it.
Magically, a chorus of yoga advocates assembles, clutching their mala beads in mock outrage & recounting tales of their own transcendent yoga experiences. They feel compelled to espouse the potential benefits (both real and imagined) of yoga to everyone who dares confess that they don’t partake in the occasional downward-facing dog:
“You NEED yoga, you’re so stressed!”
“I went on a yoga retreat a few years ago and I lost like, 6 pounds!”
“You should do hot yoga to sweat out all of those toxins from drinking alcohol!”
“I was unhappy, then I did yoga once, and now I’m enlightened & wear yoga pants everywhere.”
As a yoga practitioner and teacher myself, I’m obviously a huge advocate for anyone to begin a practice. However, yoga is one of those things that’s prescribed widely by people who don’t even practice it. It’s suggested as a complement to other athletic activities, it’s used as a fancy word for “stretching”, and it’s thrown around as a cure for everything from stress to constipation. I’m not saying you have to have any special yoga credentials in order to believe that yoga could do your friend/coworker/priest/president a world of good, but don’t lose your mind when people aren’t interested in doing this thing that you aren’t even willing to do.
I half-jokingly refer this whole process as “yoga shaming”- we don’t expect people to actually practice yoga with any regularity, but we DO expect them to mutter sentiments like “I totally SHOULD do yoga, but I just don’t have time!”. Those who don’t play by our rules of feigning interest in yoga are subjected to a list of all of the ways yoga could change their lives, even if we’re too impatient to really adopt a consistent yoga practice ourselves.
Let me be clear: I’m all about promoting yoga as a meaningful lifestyle that can change the world (+ as a physical practice, divorced from the complexity of philosophy and appropriated to fit our modern means, if I’m being totally honest… but that’s for another article). However, when people relentlessly impose their ideas about yoga being this cure-all that should be adopted by even the most unwilling subjects, it gets a little preachy, even if it’s well-intentioned. I’m not religious, but I imagine that people who endure the “YOU NEED YOGA!” crowd must feel like I do when people tell me I need Jesus. It’s like, I know you think you’re trying to save me from eternal hellfire, but please stop.
My suggestion is this: if you truly want to be an ambassador of yoga, then live the best yogic lifestyle that you can imagine, and those who are genuinely curious will reach out to you. Those who aren’t interested won’t reach out to you. If you’re a yogi, take this as an opportunity to practice non-attachment, and let that shit go.
Have you ever been yoga shamed? Let me know!