So as not to bore anyone with continuous posts about my neck ailments, I will space those out a bit. Today I want to write a little bit about yoga culture. I have lived in several states and have taken many kinds of yoga, at various places. It is interesting how differently they all operate.
One Vinyasa studio I used to practice at (years ago in a different state than I live in now) was interesting. Teachers would glide in just under the wire and walk to the front of the room, noses in the air. They’d crank up their kickin’ music, no eye contact with students. The cuing was precise, but the teaching seemed like a performance. They were rock stars on stage. No questions allowed from newbies. No time to explore. Keep up, or get out. A couple of teachers there broke through the culture, engaged students, seemed to care about them, but seeing as the owner was the most performancy performer, the trickle down message was yoga cold. Not my style, but bliss for others. Classes were always packed.
One place I practiced almost 20 years ago was at a woman’s home. She was a warm and caring teacher. There were about eight of us who took her Hatha class regularly. The only issue was her teenage daughter. The girl would tromp through and “accidentally” let their wild dog loose on us while we were in Shavasana. Their mother/daughter dynamic was fraught. Can you relax with thick tension in the air? It’s a great thing if you can. I could not. Especially not while getting barked at, or my face licked.
In yet another example in another state, one of my friends wanted to practice yoga, but told the teacher she couldn’t be there often because she has a young adult son with autism. The teacher told her, “Bring him.” She shook her head, “You don’t understand, he’ll be disruptive.” The teacher said, “We’ll take turns taking him outside, spending time with him.” She suggested the village would help care for him so this autism mom, doing the hard work of autism momming could get some yoga in. And they did! And they have been ever since! Intuitively this is how a healthy society should operate, but it blows my mind and chokes me up every time I think of it.
Each studio has its own living, dynamic culture. Some, you walk into and immediately feel warmth and welcome. Everyone knows your name. Some are clinical, all about the business of perfect alignment. Some teachers chitter-chatter throughout their class. Some allow for much silence.
What works for one student might be a complete NO for another. There is no right way for everyone. There are no perfect teachers or perfect yoga environments.
If you’re new to yoga, don’t give up if the first place/teacher you try isn’t for you. If you leave a class feeling more tense or deflated, keep looking until you find a good fit.
Yoga is for everyone, but sometimes you have to do some digging to find yours.
When you do, it is so worth it.