Stumbling Blocks to Stepping Stones

stumbling blockThe mantra of the month is the 9 Obstacles.  They are;

  1. Illness
  2. Lethargy
  3. Doubt
  4. Haste/Impatience
  5. Resignation/Fatigue
  6. Distraction
  7. Ignorance/Arrogance
  8. Inability to take a new step
  9. Loss of confidence

Part of the gift of a regular yoga practice is getting a little clarity on what are some of the obstacles and stumbling blocks in your path.  This is in reference to yoga on the mat and off, because as “they” say; how you do anything is how you do everything.

Yoga doesn’t magically kick those obstacles out of your way.  It just puts a flashlight in your hand to see them a little better so you don’t have to keep tripping on it or stubbing your toe on it.

I know that many people have lots of obstacles when it comes to yoga.  I do too.  If a yoga studio is full of Sanskrit words I don’t understand or images of gods & gurus I don’t know…I don’t feel like I belong.  Also, I am seriously intimidated by the pictures of fierce and sweaty people in a Hot Yoga class. I am nervous just thinking about it.

There are endless reasons why someone might not do yoga, actually.  Such as; It’s just for rich people who can afford the expensive clothes that are just for yoga. I don’t want to pay money to feel like an idiot.  Everyone else looks so healthy and happy in their bodies, and I feel like crawling out of my skin on most days. I don’t want to be the only guy. I just had a miscarriage and feel so angry at my body, and can barely stand seeing all these pregnant ladies or hearing people complain about their kids. I am a survivor of sexual abuse and it feels way too vulnerable with the instructor walking around, adjusting people and pointing to our bodies.  What’s with all the middle-aged white women? Seriously. Is yoga only for white people?

And countless other really good reasons.

There has been a wonderful movement within the yoga community to turn the stumbling blocks into stepping stones, making yoga more inclusive, inviting, and accessible to every body.  There are classes for people struggling with addiction, depression, chronic pain, and PTSD.  There are yoga classes for survivors of sexual violence.  There are yoga classes for men only, women only, and yoga classes for youth.  There are yoga classes for big bodies. There are yoga classes for people of color.

There is a yoga studio in Seattle that has offered a yoga class for people of color for at least 5 years. This past month a radio dj got word of this and thus started a hate-filled campaign, resulting in death threats and acts of violence against the instructor and participants, claiming the class is racist.  Here is a link that tells some of the story…Here

I hardly know what to say about this because it seems so incredibly ridiculous (to say the least) to threaten to kill someone because you feel excluded from a yoga class that, I’m guessing, these people weren’t even trying to get into.  It is such a total distortion of community and exclusion.  The hateful ignorance is not about yoga at all, yet it has taken away a unique practice that offered a meaningful community of support, rest, and empowerment. I know from my own experience and from people in my classes, that finding the right yoga teacher and class where you feel like you fit in, are accepted, encouraged, affirmed, and challenged can be life changing. Life Changing.  Typing this right now I just want to shout Damn You, You Confused, Ignorant, and Hateful Person!  Damn You.

This hateful act of violence inspires me to be more aware of the obstacles, stumbling blocks, and pitfalls that are on the paths to the yoga classes I teach. Obviously I can’t predict everyone’s obstacle or fix everything so it’s like a greased Slip ‘n Slide. But, I can try to be aware of the obstacles that are most common for people.  I can think outside the small box of my in/experience.

So, what about you?  Not just what’s keeping you from yoga. But, maybe that’s a good place to start.  What’s keeping you from yoga (and anything else)?  I’m not saying that you “should” do yoga or anything else, so don’t should on yourself either, eh? Be kind. We’re all doing the best we can.  And, to take it a step further are there some obstacles, pitfalls, and stumbling blocks for other people that  you might be reinforcing or simply ignoring? We can all think outside the box of our own in/experience.  And be kind.  We’re all doing the best we can.

Peace on your head, you.



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