Despite how much I have loved yoga and felt it’s subtle yet significant transformation of my own life, I have also struggled with feeling like it’s a luxury and nearly frivolous activity for the wealthy and those who live a fairly cushy life. I would consider my life to be rather cushy, in respect to many.
I am sure my perspective of yoga was such because I mostly saw people in yoga studios and gyms who had the money and health to be there! Thank goodness, I am starting to grow up a little, stop making such assumptions about others, and climb out from behind my limited view. And, thank God – yoga is getting out of the yoga studios and into places where people do yoga in the regular clothes on their back, in smelly and strange locations (sorely lacking in candles, icons, and soothing colors), and everyone does not have great hair.
There were so many humbling and inspiring aspects to the Prison Yoga training I attended a little over a week ago. It would be nearly cumbersome for me to talk about them all. But, something that stands out to me is the recognition that yoga is simply about connecting your mind-body- spirit so that you can show up in life, at all. It is no more of a luxury than getting to drink a glass of water when you are thirsty or brush your teeth. <– Those two activities are actually how I often describe how yoga makes me feel — like I just took a big glass of cool, refreshing water or the difference brushing your teeth makes. I feel in my mind, body, and spirit; lighter, stronger, softer, healthier, kinder, more open, more full of life, and more full of grace.
So, where is the luxury in feeling a few moments of all that? Isn’t that what we all would like to get a whole lot more of? Do we seriously want to attach getting to feel better with class cards, gym memberships, and expensive black yoga pants????
Right now I feel a very long sermon in me, retelling all the stories of Jesus going out to where all the people who had been or had felt excluded from the temple were and bringing them kindness, recognition, love, community and hope. And it changed their lives.
Is offering yoga to men & women in prison a luxury? Is it frivolous to teach yoga in the slums of poor and oppressed communities around the world? Is it foolish to assume teaching yoga to “at-risk” youth would make a difference?
If a yoga practice is a frivolous luxury that doesn’t make a difference in the world then what will? And if we don’t believe it will make any difference, then why do any of us do it?
This Saturday morning is the last Daily Bread Yoga retreat until the fall. The topic is Compassion; On & Off the Mat. It’s only 9a.m.-noon, and just a short drive (for Chambaners) to lovely Philo, IL. The cost is $20, if that feels okay for you. And it is a retreat, from daily life. You don’t need to go to Mexico for a week to go on a yoga retreat, as wonderful as that sounds to me too, right now. I hope you can come. Let me know if you have any questions or anything.